“Landscape with a Mill in the Moonlight” by Aert van der Neer (1613-1677)

There was a young king who valued his image above all else. Every day, in every room he entered, he inspected his appearance in one of the great mirrors hanging throughout the palace. If an article of clothing became faded, or a thread became loose, if a droplet of wine stained his coat, or gravel embedded itself in his soles, he would discard the offending items and replace them with fresh ones. He bathed twice a day, and kept his hair tied tightly at the nape of neck, his brown mustache clipped and even, and his beard close to his face. He rarely raised his voice, and tempered every word he uttered by minutes of thought. Each servant was selected to reflect his look and demeanor, and was expected to abide by his rules regarding dress and personal habits. And, when he felt it was time for him to produce an heir, it came as no surprise to anyone that he chose a woman who could have been his twin as his bride.

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