Basket 0
1 of 6

This highly distinguished work is one of the most important portraits of Charles Edward Stuart (otherwise known as ‘the Young Pretender’ or ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’), to resurface in recent years. It was possibly commissioned by his father James (or ‘King’ James to the Jacobites) in 1740 and captures the charisma of the young prince who won the hearts of so many adherents in the pursuit of his family’s right to rule.

The portrait was painted in Rome by the celebrated Italian court artist Domenico Dupra in 1740 and is signed on the reverse of the canvas. Dupra was a notable portrait painter who is thought to have trained under Francesco Trevisani and was patronised by the Portuguese court before returning to his native city in 1731. It was here that he first came to the attention of James Francis Edward Stuart (known as ‘King James III’ to the Jacobites, or ‘The Old Pretender to his opponents) after painting a...

Read more

This highly distinguished work is one of the most important portraits of Charles Edward Stuart (otherwise known as ‘the Young Pretender’ or ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’), to resurface in recent years. It was possibly commissioned by his father James (or ‘King’ James to the Jacobites) in 1740 and captures the charisma of the young prince who won the hearts of so many adherents in the pursuit of his family’s right to rule.

The portrait was painted in Rome by the celebrated Italian court artist Domenico Dupra in 1740 and is signed on the reverse of the canvas. Dupra was a notable portrait painter who is thought to have trained under Francesco Trevisani and was patronised by the Portuguese court before returning to his native city in 1731. It was here that he first came to the attention of James Francis Edward Stuart (known as ‘King James III’ to the Jacobites, or ‘The Old Pretender to his opponents) after painting a series of portraits of his supporters and their friends who had travelled to Rome on the Grand Tour in 1739.[1] Several of these portraits, including those of the James’s physician Dr James Irwin and his maggiordomo (manager of the household) William Hay, are now in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Toward the end of the 1730s, Charles and his younger brother Henry became increasingly conspicuous on the Jacobite campaign trail, and as Charles advanced towards his majority (he turned 18 on 31 December 1738), all eyes turned to him. The emergence of a new young and ambitious figurehead combined with political turbulence back home in Great Britain invigorated Jacobite supporters and necessitated the production of fresh likenesses of the two princes. Spain (whose King Philip V was Charles’s main supporter) was at war with Great Britain and the next general election in 1741 was poised to produce a hung Parliament with the Tories (pro-Jacobite) holding the balance.[2] The potential for war between England and France also seemed possible and there was now an obvious need to inspire support from the Jacobites in France and Spain and secure the loyalty of the dissatisfied British public. It was therefore decided that new portraits of Charles and Henry should be commissioned which could then be engraved and disseminated widely in printed form to help build and maintain support for a restored Stuart monarchy.

Dupra painted two portraits of each of the princes, and all four were well received. The first portrait of Charles is now lost and is only known from a reduced copy, although presumably, judging by the companion portrait of Henry, he was also shown with a baton or other accoutrements of leadership (figs.1 & 2) In all four portraits the Garter sash and the St Andrew badge of the Order of the Thistle are conspicuously shown. The second pair, of which the present work is an exceptionally rare surviving example, were more ambitious and showed the princes within a landscape setting – a reminder, no doubt, of the lands for which they are fighting. The poses are livelier, and the compositions are overall more engaging, with Charles standing defiantly, hand on hip, directing his full attention at the viewer. James preferred the second pair and ordered at least four copies to be made.[3] It is possible, though difficult to say for certain at this stage, that the present work was one of these works.

One of the versions, made for the Tory leader Sir John Hynde Cotton, 3rd Baronet (fig. 3), is, like the present work, signed on the reverse of the original canvas, but is rectangular in format, of smaller dimensions and with compositional differences. In the present work, for example, Charles in shown with a stone column to the left and a mountainous backdrop extending into the distance on the right, whereas in the Cotton version Charles is flanked either side by a shallow backdrop of trees. Other minor differences can also be observed, such as the design of the St Andrew badge which in the present work is more elaborate and finely described. Another copy in a Scottish private collection with a reduced composition and again of smaller dimensions is known only from a black and white photograph taken in 1971 but appears to be by Dupra’s hand.[4] The latter work, for which no provenance is recorded, shows Charles wearing a similarly elaborate badge with a plain sky backdrop beyond. A note in the National Portrait Gallery archives suggests that the portrait was painted as part of set by Dupra later in the 1740s and was thus not one of the versions commissioned by James in 1740.[5] A further one, which may also be by Dupra, was advertised on the front cover of The Connoisseur in March 1915 where it was erroneously attributed to Jean Baptiste Van Loo. The present whereabouts of the portrait is unknown, although it appears to be of a similar compositional design and scale to the late 1740s version in the Scottish private collection.

The Dupra portraits were an immediate success and were engraved by Jean Daullé and Johann Georg Wille (fig. 4) in Paris soon after they were finished. They were then copied by numerous other engravers and became definitive images of the princes which remained in circulation up until and throughout the Jacobite rising of 1745. The Daullé and Wille engraving shares obvious composition similarities with the present work; both images show Charles wearing the more elaborate badge of St Andrew with a pillar on the left and mountainous landscape on the right. Whether the present work was used as a point of reference for the engraving remains unknown, although its recent emergence in Paris might suggest this is possible.

The elaborate hand carved frame is also of note and may possibly be original to the portrait. A valuable portrait such as this, possibly given as a gift from ‘King’ James himself, would certainly have warranted the commissioning of a special frame. Of French original and dateable to the mid-18th century, its exquisite detailing suggests it was a prized object and was no doubt intended to be displayed within a collection of equally illustrious works.

[1] Corp, E. 2001. The King Over the Water: Portraits of the Stuarts in Exile after 1689, Edinburgh: Scottish National Portrait Gallery, p.104.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Corp, E. 2001. The King Over The Water: Portraits of the Stuarts in Exile after 1689, Edinburgh: Scottish National Portrait Gallery, p.80.

[4] See sitter boxes for Charles Edward Stuart in the Heinz Archive, National Portrait Gallery, London.

[5] See notes on ‘Private Collection, Scotland, 1971-2’ (no. 1205), Heinz Archive, National Portrait Gallery, London.

Receive information about exhibitions, news & events.

We will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.

Receive information about exhibitions, news & events.

We will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.
Close

Basket

No items found
Close

Your saved list

This list allows you to enquire about a group of works.
No items found
Close
Mailing list signup

Get exclusive updates from Philip Mould Gallery

Close

Sign up for updates

Make an Enquiry

Receive newsletters

In order to respond to your enquiry, we will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.

Close
Search
Close
Close
500 Years of British Art