Saturday, January 25, 2014

Painting of the Day: Portrait of a Baby, possibly Prince Edward (1767-1820), later Duke of Kent

Portrait of a Baby, Possibly Prince Edward
c. 1769
Francis Cotes
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Painted by Francis Cotes (1726-70), circa 1768-1769, this work of oil on canvas was first recorded in the Royal Collection during the reign of Queen Victoria.  

The identity of the infant sitter has long been something of a mystery, however, most believe that the child is Prince Edward since his 1767 birth coincides with the creation of the painting.  Furthermore, Eighteenth Century inventories of the palaces at Kensington and Kew refer to portraits of Prince Edward by "Coates."

Regardless of his identity, the baby is a cheeky boy, impersonating Cupid--complete with faux wings, a quiver of arrows and a theatrical floral garland.  During this period, artists such as Reynolds were employing this sort of "mock-mythology" in portraits of young ladies, but, if the attributed date of the painting is to be trusted, we can see that Cotes was among the first to adopt the idea in the representation of infants. 

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