independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Painter defends his 'horror-film' portrait of the Danish royal family

The painter responsible for the first official portrait of the Danish royal family for 125 years has expressed his surprise at the outcry over it

The painter responsible for the first official portrait of the Danish royal family for 125 years has expressed his surprise after critics likened the work variously to a horror movie poster and a badly-botched Photoshop job.

Thomas Kluge spent four years painting Queen Margrethe II and her family, including Prince Christian, who dominates the royal ensemble and has been compared to Damien, the possessed orphan in the 1976 film The Omen.

The Queen commissioned the work to mark the passage of 150 years since the House of Glucksburg took the Danish throne. It recalls a renowned 19th century painting that showed earlier generations of the family in a traditional, ballroom setting.

Speaking for the first time since the a challenging reception, Mr Klug said that he was surprised to discover people were looking at his painting in the same way as the original.

"I was trying to take out realistic depictions because we live in a democratic world and I think our Queen and her her family are now symbolic," he said. "This is satire."

Mr Klug, who is 44 and from Copenhagen, described his depiction of eight-year-old Christian, who is second in line to the throne and played football with the artist during sittings, as like that of a "toy figure".

He added: "I have put him in front of a theatre-like scene with light coming from below to show how he has not grown up but that we, the viewer, expect him to bring this kingdom into the future. I wanted to show that weight on his shoulders."

A spokesperson for the royal family in Copenhagen said it could not comment on the painting or the reaction to it but Mr Kluge said the Queen had approved the work.

"She was very kindly and warm and it was a great pleasure for me so I have a great feeling for that," he said.

"I think it is understood that it is important to play with historic symbols and place them in our democracy. We should look at our history and culture in new ways."

Queen Margrethe enjoys some of the highest popularity ratings of any European monarch and is herself an accomplished artist. She supplied the illustrations for the Danish language publication of the Lord of The Rings trilogy with the blessing of its author JRR Tolkien.

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