Dorotheum - one of the world’s oldest major auction houses. London Office Preview of Old Master Painting
Nicolas de Largilliere (1656-1746)
Portrait of Prince James Francis Edward Stuart, Prince of Wales, with a courtier, 1692
oil on canvas, 108 x 137.5 cm., framed
Touching British soil for the first time, “Portrait of Prince James Francis Edward Stuart, wearing the Order of the Garter with a coutier, 1662” by Nicholas de Largillière will be exhibited in Dorotheum London from 23rd – 27th September. This will be a rare opportunity to view a portrait the Catholic King Britain and Ireland never had after he was exiled to France when he was only 6 months old, in 1689.
Dorotheum London Director Martina Batovic and Dorotheum Old Master Specialist Marc MacDonnell will discuss this remarkable painting some 200 meters from where the exiled King was born in St James.
The talk will be held at Dorotheum London on Monday 26th September, beginning at 5pm and will be followed by a champagne reception at 6pm.
The talk will uncover the history and propaganda behind the portrait of Prince James Francis Edward Stuart. From the very day of his birth in 1688, he was regarded as a controversial figure. His parents, King James II of England and Ireland and his Roman Catholic wife Mary Modena, were expected to be succeeded by the Protestant Princess Mary – from James II’s first marriage. The arrival of Prince James implied a Catholic dynastic seemed inevitable, and came as a shock and a scandal to the public. A Protestant uprising and an invasion by Princess Mary’s Dutch husband, William of Orange, forced the reigning Royal Family to flee to France. There, they were taken in by King Louis XIV of France who gave them a chateau near Versailles. After King James II’s death in 1701, James Francis Edward was recognized as the rightful heir to the English, Irish and Scottish thrones by King Louis XIV, Spain and the Papal States as the legitimate and ruling sovereign of England and Scotland.
The denial of King James Francis Edward’s birthright had disastrous effects for Catholics in Britain and Ireland - they were denied the right to vote, to sit in Westminster parliament and to join the army for over a century. However, it did have a profound influence on the political use of art during the period. The exiled Stuart Jacobite court in France were fortunate to have been able to employ commissions from some of the finest French portraitists of the age (who were arguably more talented than those based in England). These artists painted them in the prestigious and confident poses such as the one in question, in regular intervals and diffused by prints, to remind people they were still the legitimate monarchs of England, Scotland and Ireland. The Royals used these portraits as propaganda to persuade the public that their exile was only temporary, and that they were pending an inevitable restoration to the throne on their home soil.
The present painting is an important rediscovery and an example of the rich artistic output of the exiled Stuart court in France. Regal in every sense, it frequently outshone its counterpart in England.
Dorotheum London are delighted to host this fine portrait and look forward to introducing guests to the artistry and political importance that surrounds it.