The miniaturist David des Granges began his limning practice in the 1630s when he made his living through painting conventional portrait miniatures and responding to the growing demand for small versions of old master paintings.

The artist of this gem-like portrait of the teenage prince has long been disputed. If it is the portrait displayed at the B.A.F.C.’s exhibition in the late 19th century then Samuel Cooper was suggested as the artist; whereas Claudia Hill (Ellison Fine Art) gave the artist as Peter Cross (. Given that Charles II was already fifteen when Cross was born this seems unlikely, as the young prince portrayed here bears little resemblance to portraits of the mature monarch. A more likely artist would be David des Granges, who travelled into exile abroad with the prince to The Hague and was employed to paint miniatures for the supporters of the ‘king in waiting’. The particularly tiny size of the present work suggests that it may have been intended as a ring or at least to have been worn discreetly by a supporter of the prince. The portrait is painted in a similar technique to a slightly earlier portrait of the...

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The artist of this gem-like portrait of the teenage prince has long been disputed. If it is the portrait displayed at the B.A.F.C.’s exhibition in the late 19th century then Samuel Cooper was suggested as the artist; whereas Claudia Hill (Ellison Fine Art) gave the artist as Peter Cross (. Given that Charles II was already fifteen when Cross was born this seems unlikely, as the young prince portrayed here bears little resemblance to portraits of the mature monarch. A more likely artist would be David des Granges, who travelled into exile abroad with the prince to The Hague and was employed to paint miniatures for the supporters of the ‘king in waiting’. The particularly tiny size of the present work suggests that it may have been intended as a ring or at least to have been worn discreetly by a supporter of the prince. The portrait is painted in a similar technique to a slightly earlier portrait of the Prince, which showed him with facial hair and with shorter hair. [1]

The miniaturist David des Granges began his limning practice in the 1630s when he made his living through painting conventional portrait miniatures and responding to the growing demand for small versions of old master paintings. His family connections with Richard Gibson and his address in the heart of the limning community in Covent Garden stood him in good stead. Des Granges may have taken on some of Gibson’s less appealing commissions and he was in exactly the right place to obtain introductions to the nobles and connoisseurs surrounding the King. Eventually, he was formally employed by the future King Charles II, being appointed His Majesty’s Limner in Scotland in 1651.

Like most artists, des Granges needed to make a living during the volatile political situation which had culminated in the Civil War, and led to the Interregnum. He joined a small group of artists who followed Charles into exile. Des Granges was almost certainly in The Hague, benefitting from the void left by Alexander Cooper’s departure and Peter Oliver’s death. His main employment was copying, into miniature form, oil portraits of Charles for distribution amongst Charles’ supporters.

[1] In 2012 Philip Mould and Co. sold a similarly-sized portrait of the young prince, datable to circa 1640-1, also attributable to David des Granges.

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500 Years of British Art