Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of the Pretender Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788) 1735c.

Giles Hussey 

Portrait of the Pretender Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788), Giles Hussey
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Black and red chalk on paper
18th Century
235 x 177mm
 
Provenance:
Possibly collection of Matthew Duane (1707-1785) & his sale Christie''s 1-2 May 1787; With Thomas Sevestre of 148 New Bond, London; Probably Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester (1773-1844) by whom then given(?) to Queen Victoria.
During the years that he spent in Rome between 1733 and 1737 Giles Hussey became a passionate supporter of the Jacobite movement and of Charles Stuart in particular.

Although the exact nature of their friendship is not known, the series of sensitive portraits that resulted from their contact suggests that their relationship was close. Furthermore, an inscription on one of these drawings refers to the artist as the Prince's ''Private Secretary''. These highly-finished portrait drawings were considered as ''icons'', for the contemplation of jacobite supporters both in Britain and in exile on the Continent. They also record the Prince's appearance in the critical period leading up to the ill-fated 1745 expedition.

The earliest portrait, showing the Prince looking up and to the right and wearing an embroidered cloak with the riband of the Garter, is probably the one formerly in the Ilchester collection at Holland House, which has been dated to 1735. Other versions include those in the collections of Lord Arundel, the Duke of Atholl and one formerly in the collection of Lord Montague at Cowdray Park. Two versions in red chalk are known, one in the British Museum and a second formerly in the collection of Horace Walpole.

This drawing, however, stands apart from the group in not being an idealised icon but most probably a specific design for the head of the Prince as executed on the AMOR ET SPES medal. This medal was struck in silver and bronze to commemorate the ''45 rebellion. The obverse of the medal bore the head of the Prince as depicted in this drawing, with the inscription CAROLUS WALLIAE PRINCEPS. The reverse showed a figure of Britannia and the inscriptions AMOR ET SPES and BRITANNIA.

The precise date on which the medal was issued has not been ascertained. Although inscribed 1745 it is possible that it was antedated and in fact issued as a reward to loyal supporters in the later 1740s. If this is indeed the case, the exuberant optimism of the text would have read rather bitterly in the light of the Jacobite defeat and the certainty that the Stuart crown would never be reclaimed.

The drawing's association with Queen Victoria is also of significance. It would seem likely that that this was one of a number of drawings acquired in Rome by the artist and dealer Gavin Hamilton for the collector Matthew Duane. Duane formed an outstanding collection of drawings, including a large number by Hussey; his sale at Christie's in 1787 included several of Prince Charles Edward. It was subsequently with the dealer Thomas Sevestre of Bond Street and then -on the basis of the frame label- was possibly acquired from his by the Princess Sophia Matilda. On her death she bequeathed a number of works to Queen Victoria. The official brushmark cypher on the back of the picture marks it as a work from the Royal Collection during Victoria's reign, although it does not appear in any of the inventories of her reign. It is probable, therefore, that it remained a personal possession of the Queen, and was eventually given by her to a close friend or courtier.

With the death of Henry Benedict Cardinal Duke of York in 1809 the Jacobites could at last recognise the House of Hanover as the successors to the Stuart Monarchy. Queen Victoria could, therefore, affect a Jacobite enthusiasm without compromising the legitimacy of her title. She is recorded as being delighted when told that she bore a facial resemblance to Charles Edward Stuart.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.