A three-quarter length portrait of William III in coronation robes, slightly facing to the left. Behind him on the right, his crown and orb rest on richly ornate fabric and a fluted pillar in the left background. Born into the House of Orange-Nassau, William won the English, Scottish and Irish Crowns following the Glorious Revolution, during which his uncle and father-in-law, James II, was deposed. In England, Scotland and Ireland William ruled jointly with his wife, Mary II, until her death on 28 December 1694. As a Protestant, William participated in a number of wars against the Catholic Louis XIV of France, and many Protestants heralded him as a champion of their faith. It was partly due to this that he was able to take the crown of England, since many were intensely fearful of Catholicism and the papacy. William's reign marked the beginning of the transition from the Stuart's personal control of government to the Parliamentary rule of the House of Hanover. During his reign, the Bill of Rights of 1689 settled the question of succession to the Crown. After the death of either William or Mary, the other spouse would continue to reign. Next in the line of succession was Mary II's sister, the Princess Anne. William was absent from the realm for extended periods during his war with France during his joint rule with Mary. Whilst he was away fighting Mary governed the realm, acting on his advice. When she died of smallpox in 1694, William ruled alone and deeply mourned his wife's death. Although he converted to Anglicanism his popularity plummeted during his reign as a sole Sovereign. Nevertheless his reign established the Protestant succession; saw the Act of Settlement of 1701 and the resistance of French domination in Europe. In 1702, William died of pneumonia, a complication from a fall whilst riding at Hampton Court in 1702. This portrait is probably one of a studio pair with Mary II (BHC2853) and is inscribed 'King William'. It was presented to the Greenwich Hospital Collection by Sir John van Hatten of Dinto Hall, Bucks in 1774.
Sir Godfrey Kneller
- Image reference: BHC3094
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection
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