Over the last couple of years much of my time has been spent tracking down and researching objects associated with Prince Henry, the son of James VI of Scotland and I of England, the boy who, had he lived, would have become King Henry IX. Henry is now a largely forgotten figure, but in his lifetime, and for some time afterwards, he was seen as the ideal Renaissance prince. Brave, handsome, athletic, clever, noble and virtuous, he seems to have possessed every quality desirable in a prince. He became the focus of almost unlimited hope for the future for his family, his would-be subjects, and Protestant states abroad. Many wonderful paintings and objects connected with him survive to this day.
These include extraordinary portraits, one showing him hunting with a friend, another, riding a huge grey horse, accompanied by an apparently naked figure of Father Time.
There are also exquisite portrait miniatures, beautifully bound books from his collection, Old Master paintings branded with his ‘HP’ monogram, elegant Renaissance bronzes, and much more. Some of the most touching artefacts are letters to and from his parents, and Henry’s own exercise book. The latter has lines of Latin written out as handwriting practice, but also a page of doodles and smudges, practice signatures and scribbles.
Visiting these objects has been one of the most exciting parts of my research for the exhibition – and sometimes surprisingly moving as well. My next post will tell the story of one such visit.
As part of the exhibition The Lost Prince: The Life and Death of Henry Stuart
Image Credits (from top to bottom)
Henry, Prince of Wales, Isaac Oliver, c.1610-12. The Royal Collection. Supplied by Royal Collection Trust/© HM Queen Elizabeth II 2012.
Prince Henry on Horseback, Robert Peake the Elder, c.1666-8? From the collection at Parham House, Pulborough, West Sussex. © Michael Donne.
Prince Henry’s Copy-book, Prince Henry, 1606-6, bound probably in 1610. The Master and fellows of Trinity College Cambridge. © The British Library Board, Royal.12.A.LXVI.