Princess Elizabeth (Elizabeth of Bohemia, 'The Winter Queen'), 1596–1662, aged seven
This masterpiece of early English portraiture was painted only months after the death of Elizabeth I in March 1603, when Elizabeth's father, James (BHC2796), succeeded to the English throne. Following the death of Elizabeth I (Princess Elizabeth's sole godmother), James immediately set off for London. His queen, Anne of Denmark (BHC4251), with her two elder children, Princes Elizabeth and Prince Henry (BHC4181), did not leave until June, arriving in London in time for the coronation in July. In October of that year Elizabeth was placed under the guardianship of Lord Harington at Combe Abbey, Warwickshire. It seems probable that this portrait and its companion, the portrait of Elizabeth's brother, Henry Prince of Wales with John Harington beside a dead stag (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) were both commissioned by Harington. They convey something of the novelty of a new royal family's arrival in England. Elizabeth's age, 7, is inscribed on the fan which she holds in her left hand, while the date, 1603, is inscribed on the bridge in the right background. Beyond this is a hunting scene, presumably representing Prince Henry and his friend John Harington, which links the portraits of Elizabeth and Henry. As Elizabeth's birthday was in August it seems very likely that the portrait was painted very soon after her arrival in England. Ten years later in 1613, Elizabeth married Frederick, Elector Palatine (see BHC2696, and for their journey to Heidelberg BHC0266 and BHC4176).
- Image reference: BHC4237
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection
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