King James I of England and VI of Scotland

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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King James I of England and VI of Scotland

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, late 16th century, based on a work of 1574
46 1/2 in. x 28 3/4 in. (1181 mm x 730 mm)
Purchased, 1859
Primary Collection
NPG 63

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Unknown artist, Artist. Artist or producer associated with 6578 portraits.

This portraitback to top

James is seen in this painting at the age of eight, dressed for hunting with a sparrow hawk on his gloved left hand.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 44 Read entry

    James was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots and her second husband, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley. After Mary’s forced abdication in 1567, he became king of Scotland at only thirteen months old. Raised apart from his Catholic mother, James was tutored by the Protestant poet and historian George Buchanan, and became an able scholar with a lifelong passion for learning; however, the rule of a succession of regents, who were in open conflict with his mother and divided over the question of religious reform, left Scotland in turmoil during his minority. James is depicted at the age of eight, dressed for hunting, with a sparrowhawk on his gloved left hand. While the young king's control of the hawk was possibly intended to be read as a sign of his authority, it also reflects James’s keen interest in hunting, which was evident from an early age. Even as a child, his household included a falconer, and hunting gloves are listed alongside bows and arrows in the contents of his library; his privy council had to assist with the search for his favourite hawks after they escaped in 1578, ordering that any found within twelve miles of the castle were to be presented to the king. James's love of hunting would go on to be satirised in his later life, with fears that he did it to excess.

  • MacLeod, Catherine, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection at Montacute House, 1999, p. 26
  • Robin Gibson, Pets in Portraits, 2015, p. 8
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 331
  • Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 176

Events of 1574back to top

Current affairs

Arrival in England of the first Jesuit missionaries from the English College at Douai, France. During Queen Elizabeth I's reign, ninety-eight of these priests will be executed for attempting to restore Catholicism in England.

Art and science

The Earl of Leicester's Men, a troupe of actors lead by James Burbage, receives the first royal patent to be granted to a company of players.


Death of Charles IX of France. His brother Henry, King of Poland succeeds him as Henry III. Henry leaves Poland for France. The Polish Assembly formally deposes him from the Polish throne.
Ottoman forces capture the port of Tunis from Spain.
After an eleven-month siege by Spanish forces, the city of Leiden in the Netherlands is relieved by a fleet of Dutch privateers (known as 'Sea Beggars') after dykes are cut and the local area flooded.

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