In celebration of a lifelong love affair that began with a royal wedding on February 14, 1613, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), will unveil Triumph of the Winter Queen: Allegory of the Just (1636) by Gerrit van Honthorst on Valentine’s Day. This will be the first opportunity for visitors to see the monumental Dutch painting (measuring 10 by 15 feet) at the Museum, on view through July 21 in the installation Triumph of the Winter Queen. The recently conserved canvas, on loan to the MFA, depicts Frederick V and his beloved wife, Elizabeth Stuart, the King and Queen of Bohemia—known as the “Winter King and Queen” for the brevity of their reign—surrounded by their 13 children. More than just a family portrait, this allegorical work is a statement about love, war, exile, separation, and loss played out on the world stage. It also serves as a declaration by Elizabeth that she and her family would triumph over the adversity they faced and regain their rightful place as rulers of the Palatinate in central Europe.
To enhance the appreciation of this 17th-century masterpiece, an immersive media experience will be featured in the MFA’s Rosemary Merrill Loring and Caleb Loring, Jr. Gallery. In this setting, Triumph of the Winter Queen will take center stage as the only work on view. Visitors will be able to sit in the gallery as the lights dim and watch a nine-minute film presentation on two screens dramatizing the story of the painting and the people it depicts through maps, music, and spoken passages from the royal couple’s letters. Informational wall text panels also will explore the political and personal histories of the figures depicted, as well as the conservation efforts that restored this grand work.