(b. 1843, Rønne, d. 1917, Frederiksberg)
The Death of Queen Sophie Amalie1882
Oil on canvas, 93 x 87 cm
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen
Sophie Amalie (1628-1685) became Queen of Denmark in 1648. She was the daughter of Duke George of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and in 1643 she was married to Frederik III. She was the mother of Christian V. In spite of the dire financial situation of the Kingdom, she was the centre of a sumptuous court life, with exclusive luxury items and grand parties, which shed glory on the royal power.
The present painting belongs to the group of around 100 pictures, studies, and sculptures that Zahrtmann created on the basis of Leonora Christine's (1621-1698) memoirs from 1869. Her life and destiny, spanning the range from wealth and power through imprisonment and shame to rehabilitation and release, fascinated Zahrtmann for almost 50 years. Sophie Amalie was behind Leonora Christine's arrest and 22 years of imprisonment in Blatarn. Zahrtmann hated her for that, and his sentiments are apparent with exceptional honesty in this depiction of her death throes.
Surrounded by silverware and magnificent silks, the dowager queen Sophie Amalie breathes her last. A grotesque figure whose status and wealth cannot deliver her from a violent and painful death by asphyxiation.