updated 11/20/2013 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/20/2013 AT 3:00 PM ET
Royals these days are fairly innocuous types, spending their days supporting charities and holding babies rather than doing rash things like dissolving Parliament and chopping their wives’ heads off. Which is why we were so delighted to discover the latest portrait of the Danish royal family, which, perhaps unintentionally, puts the terrifying power of the Scandinavian monarchy on full display.
Painted by Danish artist Thomas Kluge, the work purportedly references a famous 1883 portrait of King Christian IX of Denmark surrounded by his royal progeny. But while the earlier painting showed the Danish royals at their most glamorous, the modern portrait is something else entirely, and there’s one simple explanation – children.
In most occasions, children are cute. Royal children, with their gold-plated genes and secure futures, are even cuter. But Kluge’s decision to paint the eventual heir to the throne, eight-year-old Prince Christian, staring into the eyes of the painting’s viewers lends an unsettling air to the proceedings. According to the Danish Royal Collection, the goal was to make “the upright and severe Prince Christian aware of his future responsibilities,” but the effect is more Stephen King than steward of the nation. With him at the center, the serene gazes of adults in the room turn sinister and foreboding. What do they have in store for us?
We don’t want to pick on Kluge too much, though – the rest of his artwork is quite remarkable in its realism and control. Check out his portrait of Queen Margathe II of Denmark to see what it’s like when he’s on his game.
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