portrait of james francis edward stuart c1692 circle or studio of nicholas de largilliere

Portrait of James Francis Edward Stuart c.1692; Circle or Studio of Nicholas de Largilliere.



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oil on canvas in original carved and giltwood frame.
This is a very rare and important image of Prince James Francis Edward Stuart, Pretender to the English throne. Painted c.1692, when he was four, Studio or Circle of Largilliere who painted the original large family group portrait in 1691. The prince wears a dress as was the custom for boys until they were 'breeeched' at the age of seven.
In an era with no mass communication as we understand it, portraits were power; Henry VIII was the first to really understand this. These Jacobite portraits were essential in maintaining the Stuarts in people's minds; visual propaganda. The implied message was that the Stuarts were merely absent from the country and throne for a while, waiting an inevitable restoration. The frequent Jacobite invasions, plots and rebellions were partly made possible by the fact that people could visualise the princes for whom they risked their lives.
The paintings, mainly miniatures, went to the wealthy, engravings to the less wealthy. Note that the prince wears the blue sash and badge of the Order of the Garter as a statement of legitimacy and right to the throne. The small size of this portrait meant that it could more easily hidden if necessary, as to own it was treason.
This image is based on a large family portrait painted by Largilliere in 1691. It would have been the most up to date likeness of the prince until he was painted again by Largillliere in 1694 when he was six.
When King James II adopted Catholicism, and then had an heir, James Francis Edward, Protestant aristocrats turned to the Protestant William of Orange and his wife Mary Stuart. When William and his army arrived in England King James and his family fled to Catholic France.
King Louis XIV lent the Stuarts a chateau as a temporary residence; they were there for 25 years, and never returned to power.
The young Prince James, later known as the Old Pretender, failed in his invasion of Britain in 1715, as did his son Prince Charles, the Young Pretender, in 1745.
Our thanks to Adam Busiakiewicz, art historian, for his research and help with this portrait.
NICHOLAS DE LARGILLIERE (1656-1746) Largillière left France at the age of eighteen and went to England, where he was befriended and employed by Sir Peter Lely for four years at Windsor, Berkshire.
His painting caught the attention of Charles II, who wished to retain Largillière in his service, but the controversy aroused by the Rye House Plot against Roman Catholics alarmed Largillière, who left for Paris, where he was well received by the public as a painter.
Upon ascending to the throne in 1685, James II requested Largillière to return to England. James II offered Largillière the office of Keeper of the Royal Collections, but he declined due to his continuing unease about Rye House Plot. However, during a short stay in London, he painted portraits of the King, the Queen Mary of Modena, and the Prince of Wales James Francis Edward Stuart.
In Paris, in 1690, Largillière was documented by the French Academy.
Largillière was appointed as Chancellor of the French Academy in 1743. He died on the 20th March, 1746.
SIZE: 25 x 20.5 inches including frame.
PROVENANCE: In the 19th century, William Smith, M.P. North Lonsdale, Justice of the Peace, Barrister at Law, of Newsham House, Broughton, near Preston, by descent to his son William Bernard Stanislaus Smith, J.P, Barrister at Law, born 1874, married 1902 to Florence Clara Ruby Jay, on his death the portrait passed to his widow who died in Chester, leaving a large estate; then to her Great Niece, from whom came the painting.
Internal Ref: 8976


Height = 64 cm (25")
Width = 52 cm (21")
Depth = 6 cm (3")

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