The daughter of Emperor Maximilian I, Margaret of Austria was betrothed at the age of three to the infant dauphin Charles, the future Charles VIII, and served briefly as "queen of France" from 1483 to 1491. She is shown here around the age of ten, one year before she was repudiated by her intended husband. The initials C and M within the border of Margaret's collar (backwards C in the left border) probably signify their union. The chain of gold shells on her headdress may be part of the armorial insignia of the Bourbon dynasty with which she was then associated. The elaborate pendant of a pelican piercing its breast to draw blood with which to feed its young (the blood represented by the large hanging ruby), a symbol of Christian charity, alludes to the sitter's piety. These elements are mounted on a gold fleur-de-lis. Demonstrably showing her faith, Margaret holds a large gold filagree Paternoster bead of her rosary and looks to the right, presumably toward (what was originally) the object of her devotion. This panel likely formed the left of a diptych, whose right wing, now lost, may have represented a subject from Christ's Passion.
Don Sebastián Gabriel de Beaujeu, Braganza y Borbón, infante of Spain and Portugal; his son, Prince Pierre de Bourbon et Bourbon, duke of Dúrcal, Paris; his sale, American Art Association, Chickering Hall, New York, 10-11 April 1889, lot 24 (as "Doña Juana La Loca" by Hans Holbein the Elder; not sold); his sale, Haro Frères et Bloche, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, February 3, 1890, lot 23 (as Jean La Folle by Holbein); sold to Prince Manuel de Yturbe, Paris; his granddaughter, Princess Yturbe, Paris; sold to [F. Kleinberger Galleries, New York], 1926. Acquired by Philip Lehman from Kleinberger in March 1926.
Till-Holger Borchert. The Age of Van Eyck: The Mediterranean World and Early Netherlandish Painting 1430–1530. Exh. cat., Groeningemuseum, Bruges. Ghent, 2002, pp. 195, 251, no. 73.
Dagmar Eichberger. Women of distinction: Margaret of York / Margaret of Austria. Leuven, 2005, pp. 118, 121, no. 19.
Kathleen Wilson-Chevalier. Patronnes et mécènes en France à la renaissance. Saint-Etienne, 2007, pp. 137-138, no. 11.
Julien Chapuis. Invention: northern Renaissance studies in honor of Molly Faries. Turnhout, Belgium, 2008, pp. 138-139, nos. 3-4.