The Portrait of Hungarian Queen Beatrix of Aragon in the Regiomontanus Codex: An Analysis of Renaissance Portraiture

This article presents a detailed analysis of Queen Beatrix of Aragon's portrait, painted on the title page of the Regiomontanus Codex, focusing on several important and interconnected issues concerning Renaissance portraiture.  This paper includes a comparison with other images of the queen, and considers stylistic, iconographical and phenomenological issues. The questions that I will answer in this article are: Is this really the portrait of Queen Beatrix? Is the portrait found on the Regiomontanus Codex painted in an idealistic manner or in a rather realistic way? Was this portrait endowed with representational purposes? What is the message this portrait intends to transmit?

The title page of the Regiomontanus Codex does not bear the name of the queen, but the presence of the combined arms of Hungary and Aragon indicates that this codex was commissioned for Beatrix's library, which means that the portrait represents the image of the queen, who is also the commissioner of the book. Exactly as King Matthias, Queen Beatrix knew how to benefit from the portrait's role as propaganda. The Regiomontanus Codex records a more realistic image of Beatrix in comparison with the other representations. In this portrait, Beatrix seems to intend to immortalize and publicize a different image about herself: an individual appearance, through clothing, jewellery and individual facial features. The portrait does not contain any attributes of power, because the intention is not to present the queen's image, neither that of the pious, docile wife. The aim is to catch the coquettish and seductive woman, the image of a beautiful woman. The inscription situated around the edge of the portrait contributes to a better understanding of the commissioner's intention: the portrait creates an image of order for its readers and audience, aiming at perfection.

Keywords:  Beatrix of Aragon, Renaissance portraiture, Humanism, Hungary