English School (c.1690)
This particular miniature was probably commissioned by a supporter of Mary at a politically divisive and sensitive time
This portrait miniature of Mary II would appear to be a more informal portrayal of the queen, deriving in part from a full-length State Portrait by Godfrey Kneller, a version of which hangs at Temple Newsam House, Leeds. The popularity of Mary’s image continued long after her death with mezzotints being produced by John Faber Junior in the 1730s [Royal Collection RCIN 603241].
In the latter half of the 1680s protestant noblemen in England became concerned with James II’s increasing devotion to Catholicism. He tried to convert Mary by sending her Catholic literature, including a printed conversation of her mother’s last conversation. Mary became troubled by the birth of the Prince of Wales in 1688, a Catholic heir to the English throne, and supposed that the child was suppositious. She quickly agreed with her husband that the only way to protect England, by restoring Protestantism, was to invade.
Mary arrived in England on 12th February 1689 and was crowned joint monarch with her husband at Westminster Abbey on 11th April. During William’s absences, including his visit to Ireland, which was still being ruled by James II, Mary ruled the country with nine principal ministers of state. Although her husband did not consider her capable of overseeing the country on her own, she proved herself intelligent and able to mould her advisors as she saw necessary.
This particular miniature was probably commissioned by a supporter of Mary at a politically divisive and sensitive time. Painted around 1690, when Mary’s husband had left for Ireland to defend against James’s invasion, she represented the remaining royal family in England. The crown above her head emphasises her royal status. Singular portrait miniatures of Mary without her husband William are rare, but this may have been painted for a Stuart supporter in the same vein as extant double portraits which survive in the Royal Collection, as well as an example in the Mauritshuis, The Hague.
The elaborate border relates to similar borders painted or made from gold around miniatures of royal sitters (such as the miniature of Mary, Queen of Scots, attributed to Nicholas Hilliard, Blairs Museum, Aberdeen) or the decorative mount surrounding a miniature by Samuel Cooper of Frances Jennings, Duchess of Tyrconnel (c.1638 – 1730/1), dating from c.1665 (National Portrait Gallery, London: no. 5095, formerly in the Talbot Collection at Malahide Castle).
 This has been attributed to Peter Hoadley, who worked in the early eighteenth century.