Bonnie Prince Charlie & the Jacobites - Portrait of a Prince
From Fiona Buckland
What is it?
This oil on canvas portrait is known as the ‘lost painting’ of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, as it was only identified as recently as 2014.
Who painted it?
It was painted by the prominent Scottish-born, London-based portrait-painter, Allan Ramsay (1713- 1784) who was summoned to Holyroodhouse by a letter: ‘Sir, you’re desired to come to the palace of Holyroodhouse as soon as possible in order to take his Royal Highness’s picture so I expect you’ll wait no further call.’ Imagine receiving such a commission.
What is important about it?
In contrast to the many eyewitness accounts of the prince dressed in tartan, including that of Andrew Henderson, cited in the previous step, Charles is shown here wearing European court dress and a wig. In other words, he is immortalised on canvas as a cosmopolitan Prince – a member of the European social and political élite.
He is shown wearing the star of the Order of the Garter – not the Scottish Order of the Thistle. The order of the Garter is dedicated to St George, the patron saint of England.
This painting was clearly intended to appeal to his English and European supporters as the Prince and his army headed south towards London.
In this short video Viccy Coltman explores the painting in more detail.