Prince Charles Edward Stuart

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Prince Charles Edward Stuart

by Louis Gabriel Blanchet
oil on canvas, 1738
75 in. x 55 1/2 in. (1905 mm x 1410 mm) overall
Purchased, 1982
Primary Collection
NPG 5517

On display in Room 3 on Floor 3 at the National Portrait Gallery

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Portraiture played an important part in promoting the Jacobite cause while the exiled Stuarts moved between the Catholic courts of Europe. Dashing foreign paintings presented the
Jacobites posed confidently in armour and royal regalia to project their dynastic ambitions and rally support. Painted in Rome for the Prince's father as a gift to his great-aunt, the Duchess of Parma, together with a portrait of his brother, Prince Henry.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 5518: Henry Benedict Maria Clement Stuart, Cardinal York (companion portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Cannadine, Sir David (Introduction); Cooper, Tarnya; Stewart, Louise; MacGibbon, Rab; Cox, Paul; Peltz, Lucy; Moorhouse, Paul; Broadley, Rosie; Jascot-Gill, Sabina, Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 7 October 2018 -3 February 2019. Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia, 16 March - 14 July 2019.), p. 150 Read entry

    Born in exile in Rome, the young prince had charisma and charm, which earned him the popular name Bonnie Prince Charlie. In this dashing portrait he is presented in armour alongside royal regalia. Such confident assertions of the Stuart claim to the British throne served to rally their Jacobite supporters.

  • Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 29 Read entry

    A flamboyant French image of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ who spearheaded the Hanoverians. Brave and impetuous, he relied heavily on sustained support from France, but was let down.

  • Edited by Rab MacGibbon and Tanya Bentley, Icons and Identities, 2021, p. 50
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 118
  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 102 Read entry

    Born in Rome, Prince Charles Edward Stuart – also known as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ and the ‘Young Pretender’ – was the grandson of James II, who had been deposed from the British throne in 1688, largely because of his Catholicism. The Stuart royal family lived in exile, moving around the courts of Europe and attempting to assert their claims to the British throne. Portraiture in a variety of media played an important role by serving as a rallying point for their so-called ‘Jacobite’ supporters in Britain and elsewhere.

    In this flamboyant portrait, painted in Rome by the French artist Louis Gabriel Blanchet (1705–72), Prince Charles is shown aged seventeen wearing royal regalia and armour as a projection of Jacobite ambition, identity and military intentions. In 1745, seeking to reclaim the British throne, Charles landed in Scotland and led a rising of Highland clansmen as far south as Derbyshire but, forced to turn back, many of his men were massacred by the better-equipped British troops at the Battle of Culloden. Charles fled, disguised as a maidservant and assisted by his loyal supporter Flora Macdonald. He evaded capture and eventually escaped to France but his hopes of regaining the throne were crushed. He died in exile in 1788.

Placesback to top

  • Place made: Italy (Rome, Italy)

Events of 1738back to top

Current affairs

Fetter Lane Society founded in London by the Moravians; a reformed group of Protestants led by exiled Saxon Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf. He visits Britain to petition the king for protection for Moravian missionaries working in the British colonies. An act to this effect is finally passed in 1749.
John Wesley is converted, essentially launching the Methodist movement.

Art and science

Artist Allan Ramsay returns to London from Rome and sets himself up as a portrait painter.
Metallurgist William Champion patents a process to distil zinc from calamine using charcoal in a smelter.


Methodist preacher George Whitefield arrives in Savannah, Georgia to replace John Wesley; the first of seven visits across the Atlantic which make him one of the most widely recognised figures in the American colonies.
Merchant sailor Robert Jenkins presents his pickled ear (cut off by Spanish coast-guards in Cuba in 1731) to Parliament stirring up war fever against Spain and leading to the War of Jenkins' Ear the following year.

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