Friday, 26 March 2010

Nobody's Daughter

It makes me smile when my status as a nerd is well and truly confirmed. My friend did this for me by emailing me a link to the artwork for the new album by Hole, Nobody's Daughter. "You will love it!" she wrote to me, and she was right!

Now, I'm not a Courtney Love expert. I will also confess that I'm not even that much of a fan, but the cover artwork for her band's new album is something that interests me very much.

Front and back, there are two images of queens who both met their ends by means of execution: Marie Antoinette by the blade of Madame la Guillotine, and Ann Boleyn by the hands of a French swordsman.

 Marie Antoinette à la Rose by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, 1783


The portrait of Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette à la Rose) is by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. Painted in 1783, it was commissioned as a hasty replacement (at the Academie Royale in Paris) for the disastrous and controversial painting of the French queen dressed in chemise dress and straw hat. The more regal replacement sees Marie Antoinette in a seemly silk gown trimmed with lace, and a more formal hat complete with ostrich feathers.  

 Ann Boleyn by an unknown artist.

The image on the back (partially covered by the album track listing) is of Henry VIII's ill fated second wife, Ann Boleyn. This is probably the most well known and well used portrait of her, yet it is a seventeenth century copy of a lost original painted around 1533. Here, Ann wears the fashionable French hood headdress and her iconic "B" necklace. 

It's interesting that both portraits, for the purposes of Hole's new album, are close-up views of the chests of both queens. They are cropped just below the bust and just before the chin, and I'm sure the contrast on both has been heightened for more of an impact. I would love to know who chose these images, and to know the reasons behind these left-of-field choices, especially in relation to the title of the album. Perhaps there is no deep and meaningful reason, but it mustn't be coincidental that both portraits are of young queens, both executed and both vilified.

Is Courtney a closet history nerd, maybe?!

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