Section One

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Greta Garbo in K?nigin Christine (Greta Garbo in Queen Christina)
Greta Garbo
A. M. Cay,  1934

Portraiture—from film stills to carefully crafted glamour shots by Hollywood photographers—was a principal form of publicity for the intensely private actress Greta Garbo. Since she refused interviews and public appearances, the studio released a steady stream of images for her many fans.

Garbo’s famous face and proud pose confront the viewer directly in this German poster for her 1933 film Queen Christina. She had readily agreed to star in a fictionalized account of the independent-minded seventeenth-century Swedish queen, who occasionally dressed like a man and ultimately abdicated her throne for greater religious, intellectual, and personal freedom. In the film, director Rouben Mamoulian used the beauty and mystery of Garbo’s face in his final shot of Queen Christina standing at the prow of a ship, silently contemplating her future. Some writers likened her “breathtaking and mystical expression” to the Mona Lisa.