Monday, October 21, 2013

Painting of the Day: George IV, when Prince of Wales, with Frederick, Duke of York, when Prince Frederick

The Prince of Wales and Duke of York
Benjamin West, 1777
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
via The Royal Collection Trust
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The famed Benjamin West (1738-1820) finished this double portrait in 1777 at the request of King George III and Queen Charlotte.  

George III was a keen supporter of Benjamin West who settled in England after leaving Italy in 1763.  At the time, English artists were laboring to create a national school of history painting, a goal to which George III offered his patronage.  This movement and the King's loyalty to West led to the foundation of the Royal Academy in 1768.

Between 1768 and 1801, Benjamin West painted about sixty works for King George III and by 1772 had earned the title, "Historical Painter to the King," a position for which, by 1780, West was  receiving an annual stipend from the King of £100. 

Among the many works commissioned of West by King George III was a set of five double or group portraits of the Royal Family which were intended to hang as a group  in the King’s Closet at St James’s Palace.

This is one of a pair of double portraits within this series depicting the four eldest princes.  The Prince of Wales, later King George IV, is depicted wearing a state robe with the collar and star of the Order of the Garter.  He has been posed with his left arm on the right shoulder of his brother, who is wearing the robes of the Garter with the collars of the the Garter and the Bath.

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