Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707-1751) 1735c.

Charles Philips (1703-47)

Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707-1751), Charles Philips
Oil on canvas
18th Century
18 x 13 in. 47 x 33 cm
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Born in Hanover in 1707, Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales was the eldest son of the future George II and Caroline of Anspach. Separated from his family at an early age, Prince Frederick spent his early years at the palace of Herrenhausen, acting as representative of his grandfather, George I, the absent Elector of Hanover. Unlike either George I or George II (who claimed to despise ''boets and bainters''), the Prince of Wales cultivated a keen interest in the arts which was thought to have developed as a result of his exposure to artistic movements on the Continent.

Antoine Pesne, a student of Watteau and the portraitist Philip Mercier, to whom the Prince sat as a boy, are both recorded as being present within court circles. By the time of Frederick's arrival in Britain in 1728, he had not only developed an acute eye for emergent talent but a desire to act as a royal patron. Although his income was greatly restricted by his distrusting father, the Prince appointed Mercier as his ''Principal Painter'' and employed the services of William Kent for work on his residence at Kew and for the design of a barge boat. Kew, as well as Cliveden, Carlton House and Leicester House became respositories for works by both contemporary artists and old masters.

Frederick commissioned hunting and allegorical scenes as well as portraits by Wootton, Richardson, Amigoni, and Goupy, in addition to works by Van Dyck formed the base of a collection which continued to expand throughout the Prince's lifetime.

Charles Phillips (1708 - 1748) ranked among this select group of artists patronised by the Prince of Wales. His association with the royal coterie resulted in his success amongst the fashionable circles of society including the Duke of Marlborough and the Duke of Somerset. Phillips's connection with the Prince of Wales most likely dates from the early 1730's as a signed and dated version of our portrait hanging at Chatsworth bears an inscription of 1732. The artist also painted a full-length portrait of Augusta, Princess of Wales, possibly as a companion piece to that of her husband in 1737. In accordance with Prince Frederick's taste, Phillips's style has often been compared to that of Mercier's by whom he was influenced. Although noted for his individual portraits of illustrious members of the landed classes, Phillips most elaborate works are his large scale family conversation pieces including Mr and Mrs Edward Strong and their family (1732).

The Prince of Wales married Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha in 1736 and fathered seven children, including the future George III. His ambitions of becoming Frederick I of England were cut short when he was struck on the head by a tennis ball while at Hampton Court in 1751.
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