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Prince James Francis Edward Stuart; Princess Louisa Maria Theresa Stuart

Prince James Francis Edward Stuart; Princess Louisa Maria Theresa Stuart, by Nicolas de Largillière, 1695 - NPG 976 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Prince James Francis Edward Stuart; Princess Louisa Maria Theresa Stuart

by Nicolas de Largillière
oil on canvas, 1695
75 7/8 in. x 57 3/8 in. (1928 mm x 1457 mm)
Bequeathed by Horatio William Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, 1895
Primary Collection
NPG 976

Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

  • Nicolas de Largillière (1656-1746), Painter and Draughtsman. Artist associated with 43 portraits, Sitter associated with 3 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Known as 'The Old Pretender', James Stuart was the only surviving son of James II and Mary of Modena. He was secretly conveyed to France when his father abandoned the throne in 1688. On his father's death in 1701 his supporters in exile proclaimed him king of England, and five years later he made the first of several attempts to reclaim the English throne. He was deeply attached to his younger sister Louisa Maria, who was born at the exiled court at St. Germain-en-Laye. James II commissioned this portrait of his children from Largillière when the family was living in exile. The inscription on the urn tells us that James was seven and Louisa three at the time at which it was painted. Both Louisa and the large greyhound that her brother strokes direct the viewer to look at the prince and to acknowledge him as the rightful inheritor of the British throne. The dog is one of the many elements in the portrait which symbolise both the loyalty of Louisa to her brother and of the Jacobins to James II and his son. More detailed information on this portrait is available in a National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue, John Kerslake's Early Georgian Portraits (1977, out of print).

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D11539: Prince James Francis Edward Stuart; Princess Louisa Maria Theresa Stuart (after)
  • NPG D34723: Prince James Francis Edward Stuart; Princess Louisa Maria Theresa Stuart (after)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • I-Spy National Portrait Gallery, 2010, p. 21
  • Audio Guide
  • Gibson, Robin, The Face in the Corner: Animal Portraits from the Collections of the National Portrait Gallery, 1998, p. 34
  • Kerslake, John, Early Georgian Portraits, 1977, p. 154
  • Ribeiro, Aileen, The Gallery of Fashion, 2000, p. 88
  • Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 109
  • Robin Gibson, Pets in Portraits, 2015, p. 21
  • Robin Gibson, Pets in Portraits, 2015, p. 59 Read entry

    Both Charles II and James II had tried to persuade the brilliant French painter de Largillière to remain in Britain after he had done several court commissions for them, but with anti-Catholic feeling at its height, he had wisely chosen to return to France. Now, after the bloodless revolution of 1688 and living in exile at Saint-Germain-en-Laye under the protection of Louis XIV, James commissioned this portrait of his children from de Largillière as part of his ongoing campaign to re-secure for his family the British throne.

    Like the earlier portrait of the baby Charles II, this is an unabashed piece of political propaganda, and like the portrait of the children’s mother, Mary of Modena, it is full of the conventional symbolism of the times. The innocence of the Stuart children in exile is indicated by the orange tree from which the little princess has plucked a sprig of blossom. She points to her brother, the rightful heir and future claimant to the British throne, loyalty to whom is symbolised by the magnificent greyhound standing over a twisting vine of morning glory between its feet, an emblem of constancy. She has her own faithful companions: the little male rose-ringed or ring-necked parakeet, which, like the orange tree and unbroken flow of the fountains behind her, symbolised her virginity and eligibility; seen emerging from the shadows behind her train, a small but sadly unidentifiable breed of dog.

    The Prince’s greyhound was one of the oldest and noblest of hunting dogs, its aristocratic looks, grace and intelligence complementing his royal status. But unless there is some hidden agenda, the symbolism of the orange tree might seem at best a little careless for it was the House of Orange and Prince William, now King of England, who were responsible for the current plight of the Stuart children.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 332

Events of 1695back to top

Current affairs

Princess Anne, daughter of James II by Anne Hyde, and now heir apparent to the English throne, returns to court having retired two years previously over William III's dismissal of John Churchill and his wife, Sarah, Anne's closest companion.

Art and science

William Congreve's comical farce, Love for Love, exemplifying the height of Restoration comedy, reopens Lincoln's Inn Theatre with a new actors' company led by actor Thomas Betterton. Its witty, sparking dialogue made it hugely popular with audiences.

International

William III and Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria, commanding the army of the grand alliance, recapture Namur in the Spanish Netherlands from the French. Despite a period of victories, the Netherlands and England begin to struggle financially under the economic strain of the ongoing Nine Years' War.

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