This enamel is painted after Sébastien Bourdon's oil on canvas portrait of the Queen, now in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (inv. 1072), probably executed in Spring 1653.
Don Antonio Pimentel arrived in Stockholm as Spanish Ambassador on 16 May 1652. He soon became the Queen's confidant, although certainly not, as suggested in cinematic history, her lover. He was called back to Spain in August 1653 but met with Christina again in Brussels in 1654 and was present at her secret conversion to Catholicism and subsequently followed her to Rome.
Pimentel had asked on behalf of his king, Philip IV, for a large painting of the Queen on horseback. This painting, also executed by Sébastien Bourdon, was finished in June 1653 and is now in the Prado (inv. no. P.7288). The strong relationship between Christina and Spain, obviously preparing her conversion to Catholicism and subsequent abdication in 1654, are also witnessed in the provenance of the present miniature. It is most likely one of the enamels mentioned in G. Cavalli-Björkman, Pierre Signac, Stockholm, 1972, p. 182, in Signac's memorandum dated 19 October 1660, listing unpaid works ordered by Queen Christina, as: '1 troysieme [portrait livré a la Reine] au commancement que monsieur Pimantelle arriva ycy ..... 40 [Riksdaler] pour l'or ....... 6 [Riksdaler].
As stated in G. Cavalli-Björkman (Svenskt Miniatyrmaleri, Stockholm, 1981, p. 32), Signac executed between his appointment as Court Painter on 1 January 1647 and Christina's departure in 1654, a total of 34 enamels of the Queen, 25 of which were of ordinary size and three large ones. They were mainly copies after oil paintings by David Beck or, as in the present case, Sébastien Bourdon. Another enamel by Signac after the same painting by Bourdon is in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (inv. Bih. 1021), and a large enamel copy after a different painting by Bourdon, with the sitter's hands, formerly in the David-Weill and Clore Collections (Sotheby's, London, 10 November 1986, lot 155) is now in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.
Christina, one of the most outrageous characters in history, was the daughter and only child of King Gustavus Adolphus Wasa. Lacking a son, he was determined that his daughter would be raised as a prince. Christina's mother, Maria Eleonora of Hohenzollern, rejected her daughter at birth because of her gender and ugliness.
Considering Christina's father was the most feared enemy of the Catholic world during the Thirty Years War, it is understandable how Christina tried to strengthen her bonds with Spain in order to accelerate her conversion. The success of her conversion was nevertheless doubtful; Pope Alexander VII described her as 'a woman born of a barbarian, barbarously brought up and living with barbarous thoughts [...] with a ferocious and almost intolerable pride.'