I really liked this strange story of a real 17th Century couple and the wife’s dogged pursuit of beauty. I loved the witty and naughty parallels with the modern world of chemically produced beauty warding off age, and the anachronistic introduction of modern products and commentators on today’s madness.
And like an abysm of mirrors, the illusions carried on, so that it was declared at court that Venetia had never looked more gracious, never commanded such noble charm. The cleverness of the portrait was that Van Dyck had not overstated his case, but given her an aura of tired elegance, a mildly enervated wanes, and – most clever of all – she looked very like the Queen. Even though the Queen was ten years younger.
Venetia’s likeness went out into the world, on billboards, on a big screen, displayed, retouched, elongated, a fantasy, a capriccio of perfection, and it barely mattered what her own self had become. The images were so much more powerful than she.