Studio of Michiel Jansz. Van Miereveld (1567-1641)
Elizabeth was in many ways the most popular member of the Stuart royal family and was even known as the ‘Queen of Hearts’...
This delicately painted Jacobean panel depicts Elizabeth of Bohemia, daughter of James I of England, and one of the most romantic and tragic figures from the first half of the seventeenth century.
Elizabeth was in many ways the most popular member of the Stuart royal family and was even known as the ‘Queen of Hearts’. Her life was dominated by successive tragedies, from the early death of her adored elder brother Prince Henry, followed by the execution of her other brother Charles, through to the loss of her short-lived kingdom, Bohemia, and finally the death of her husband. Yet, Elizabeth’s ultimate triumph came after her death, for, following the expulsion of James II from England in 1688, it was her heirs, through her daughter Sophia’s marriage to the Elector of Hanover, that eventually became the ruling family of the United Kingdom.
Elizabeth was born in Scotland in 1596 but soon drew attention from all of Europe as the eligible daughter of the future King James I of England. After months of negotiation, and the dismissal of numerous suitors, she was married on Valentine’s Day 1613 to Frederick V, the Elector Palatine, one of the most powerful German Protestant princes. The marriage was a key part of James I’s policy of straddling the growing gulf between Catholic and Protestant states through dynastic alliances. However, the wedding celebrations in
For a time, Elizabeth enjoyed great prosperity at Frederick’s court in Heidelberg. She was known for her extravagance, wit and beauty, and her relationship with
Another blow soon befell
Nevertheless, despite, or perhaps because of such setbacks, Elizabeth maintained a strong body of popular and political support throughout her life. She was careful to cultivate this with personal gifts, often portraits, to her admirers. She regularly patronised Miereveld to this end and later Gerrit van Honthorst; the present work was perhaps one such gift. The picture appears to be a replica of a work first painted by Miereveld shortly after Elizabeth’s marriage and engraved by Bolswert in 1615.
Michiel Van Miereveld was one of the most successful and talented portraitists operating in Holland in the early seventeenth century. In 1607 he was appointed official artist at the Stadholder court and was thus responsible for the majority of portraits of the House of Orange Nassau, some of which are repeated here with distinctive echoes of his feathery, dry technique. Such was the demand for Miereveld’s work that he constructed a large studio practice in which both his sons, Jan and Pieter, were employed.