Several months ago I read Marilyn Yalom’s engaging book Birth of the Chess Queen (New York: HarperCollins, 2004) and was intrigued by the image of the earliest Spanish chess queen from the medieval period to reside in the United States (pictured on page 56). I could not figure out the logic of the piece, because to my twentieth century sensibility, she looked trapped or imprisoned within her fortress piece… and Queens are supposed to be free moving on the chess board.

I drew her quickly with my trusty Sharpie for later contemplation and provided her with a different identity (that of Katherine Swynford) by adding heraldic images. Last night I pulled her out again and it seemed to me that she was not isolated, but rather, self-contained.

Though she has kind a deco feel now…

Chess Queen design based upon the earliest known Spanish chess queen with a face dating from medieval times. Drawing done with Sharpie ultra fine point pen by Meredith Eliassen, 2015

Chess Queen design based upon the earliest known Spanish chess queen with a face dating from medieval times. Drawing done with Sharpie ultra fine point pen by Meredith Eliassen, 2015