Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Charles II (1630-1685), as Prince of Wales, in armour breastplate, buff doublet with embroidered sleeves, white lawn collar with tassels, wearing the blue sash of the Order of the Garter, natural curling brown hair, 1655 

David Des Granges (1611/13 - 1671/2)

Portrait miniature of Charles II (1630-1685), as Prince of Wales, in armour breastplate, buff doublet with embroidered sleeves, white lawn collar with tassels, wearing the blue sash of the Order of the Garter, natural curling brown hair, 1655, David Des Granges
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Watercolour on vellum
Oval, 70mm (2 ¾ in.) high
 
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The group of the official likenesses of the young prince of Wales, painted by des Granges during his exile, are taken from a lost oil by Adriaen Hanneman (1601?-1671?). Traditionally dated to circa 1648-51, the rare, if not unique, date of 1655 on this example provides firm evidence of this portrait dating to six years after Hanneman’s original. Des Granges’ petition to the king in 1671 requesting back payments for this group lists thirteen portrait miniatures of this type. These miniatures were essential tools for distribution among his supporters. Not only were they given as tokens of affection and thanks but were essential in keeping the putative king’s visage alive.
Charles had a long association with des Granges, who had painted him as a young boy copying portraits of him after Hoskins during the late 1630s. In 1647, he was perhaps the natural choice to follow the young Prince of Wales in his exile to The Hague. In 1651, he was appointed ‘His Majesty's Limner in Scotland’, the same year as Charles was crowned ‘King of Scotland’ at Scone. Although Charles could barely afford an official artist in his entourage, this post confirmed des Granges as an important supplier of images and a key part of his exiled court.
In 1655, Charles was based in Cologne, having moved from Paris where his mother, Henrietta Maria, was living. Des Granges’ whereabouts in 1655 is less certain, but it is probable that he followed the exiled court, only returning to London in 1658. Two extant copies after Hanneman’s portrait by des Granges bear a date of 1651 , with other versions undated. Documentary evidence certainly supports a continued requirement for portraits into the mid 1650s. In 1654, a letter from Charles in Paris to Jane Lane states, “Mistris Lane,…Your cousin will let you know that I have given order for my pickture for you; and if in this or in anything else I can shew the sence I have of that wch I owe you, pray lett me know it, and it shall be done. Your most assured and constant friend, Charles R.”.


It is not known what form this ‘pickture’ of the king took, but it is likely to have been a miniature (one was certainly in possession of the family until its later destruction by fire). For practical reasons miniatures were cheaper to produce and easier to transport than other forms of portrait. Requests were made by other supporters for the king’s image, including, in 1654, from the landlord of the inn where Charles had stayed en route to Dusseldorf. Hanneman’s portrait of the late 1640s continued to be the approved portrait of the king and was clearly not thought to be outdated by the time this version was painted in 1655.
Des Granges’ career continued through the Restoration, although he was not awarded a salaried position at court. There is no doubt that des Granges was a loyal servant to Charles, painting his portrait to order with little hope of financial gain from the exiled monarch. His petition to the king in 1671, requesting payment twenty years later, states that he had been ‘…forced to rely on the charity of well-disposed persons’ to survive.
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