Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Mary Queen of Scots 1542 - 1587 1700s

 English School 

Portrait of Mary Queen of Scots 1542 - 1587,  English School
Oil on canvas
18th Century
25 x 25 inches 63.5 x 63.5 cm
Scottish Private Collection
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This posthumous image of Mary Stuart derives from contemporary originals, and in the youthful appearance of the sitter''s face most closely resembles Mary as she was drawn by Francois Clouet c.1560 whilst still at the French court. The present painting is in reverse to that portrait, perhaps suggesting an intermediate printed source. The inscription around the inside of the framing tondo is significant, as it identifies her not only as Queen of Scotland (by birth) and Queen of France (by marriage) but as mother of King James. Her role as ancestress of the House of Stuart in England upon her son''s accession as King James I of Great Britain in 1603 placed her in death where she had always sought to be in life at the heart of the English Royal Family. This position, more palatable to the English than her previous incarnation as traitress, resulted in a reassessment of her life and character. The sovereign's enemy of the sixteenth century was in a stroke the sovereign's mother, and the direct forebear of the Stuart monarchs until the death of Queen Anne in 1714. Regal images such as this proliferated in loyal Stuart households both in Scotland and England, whilst her history began to acquire the romantic aura that it retains to this day.
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