Sunday, January 26, 2014

Masterpiece of the Week: Charlotte, Princess Royal and Prince William, later Duke of Clarence

Charlotte, Princess Royal and Prince William
Johann Zoffany, circa 1770
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection 
Image Courtesy of Queen Elizabeth II

Painted for King George III and his Consort, Queen Charlotte, this painting is the work of Johan Zoffany (1733-1810) and depicts Charlotte, the Princess Royal and Prince William (later, the Duke of Clarence and later King William IV)—two of their children.

This portrait is one of a pair depicting the four eldest children of George III. The other depicts Prince George (later King George IV) and Prince Frederick. The paintings were clearly created to be viewed from a low point-of-view, looking up. They were once displayed above twin doorways in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace in 1841. According to the Royal Collection, “prior to this however they seemed to have moved around, without an obvious home.” So, it’s hard to say for where they were originally intended. 

Zoffany has created a scene with his usual sense of humor wherein the children and their dog seem to have climbed into a theatrical architectural setting. Their mischievous expression belies the grandeur of the setting and the seriousness of the drapery and floral arrangement.

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