Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Princess Louise-Marie Stuart (1692-1712) 

Francois de Troy (1679-1752)

Portrait of Princess Louise-Marie Stuart (1692-1712), Francois de Troy
Oil on canvas
17th Century
30 x 24 inches, 76 x 61 cm
French private collection
This portrait shows Louise-Marie Stuart, the youngest daughter of James II and Mary of Modena. She was born in exile after her father’s flight from England following the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688. Her brother, James Francis Edward (James II’s only son) later led the Jacobite cause first from France and then from Rome, but, thanks largely to his unflinching Catholicism, ultimately without success. He became known as the ‘Old Pretender’ to the Hanoverians, and ‘the King over the Water’ to his supporters. One of the former described him as bearing ‘extremely the look of an idiot, particularly when he laughs of prays. The first he does not often, the latter continually.’

Louise-Marie lived all her life in France, mostly at the Chateau of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, just outside Paris. She was named after her godfather, Louis XIV, who continued to recognise James II, and then James III, as the legitimate king of England. Before her death from smallpox at the age of nineteen (her brother also contracted the disease but survived), there were suggestions that Louise-Marie should marry Prince George, the Elector of Hanover and future George I of England, thus reuniting the two claimant lines to the throne.

This portrait appears to be the prime version of a number of half-length portraits of Louise-Marie by de Troy. A less well painted example is in the Drambuie collection, Edinburgh, and the composition is recorded in an engraving of 1701. In this portrait de Troy has begun to paint the lower right hand side of the sitter's dress before changing his mind and turning the picture into an oval.

Portraiture played a vital role in keeping the Jacobite cause alive. They were often commissioned to send to supporters or friendly courts (the Spanish also recognised James II and III as Kings of England), and by supporters keen to display their loyalty. Portraits of James II's children, such as this example, served as visual reminders of the Stuarts' health, vigour, and ultimate desire to regain the throne. In Louise-Marie's case, portraits would also have been commissioned for dispatch to the families of potential husbands. Francois De Troy was one of the leading portraitists at Versaille, and the artist of choice at the Stuart court-in-exile at Saint-Germain. Between 1698 and 1711 he produced a series of portraits of James II and his children. He also painted some of the most notable Jacobite supporters, such as Lord Drummond.
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