Monday, March 2, 2015

Painting of the Day: A Portrait of Mary Stuart, 1804

Mary Stuart
Denis Brownell Murphy, 1804
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Mary Stuart (1542-87) succeeded to the Scottish throne in 1542. She was only six days old at the time. Mary’s life wasn’t a whole lot of fun after that. She had some family issues, you could say. She had a rocky relationship with her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, and, also had some troubles with her husband for the one year that she was Queen Consort of France. Battles for the Scottish throne forced Mary flee to England in 1568. She had asked Elizabeth I for sanctuary and Elizabeth said, “Sure, honey. Come on over.” But, you see, Mary had already claimed Elizabeth’s throne as her own, so by the time she asked to “crash on Elizabeth’s couch,” Elizabeth was thinking that perhaps her cousin was a threat. So, by the time Mary arrived in England, she was effectively a prisoner of the English Queen. This ended with Mary being was executed in 1587, having been found guilty of plotting to overthrow Elizabeth.

Good times. 

This attractive enamel miniature depicts Mary Stuart—centuries after her death. It was made during a time in the Nineteenth Century when artists and jewelers were combining their skills and remembering the Seventeenth Century notion that enamel lasted much longer, and without fading, than oil paint. It’s the work of Denis Brownell Murphy who painted a series of images illustrating the lineage of the House of Stuart, beginning with Mary Queen of Scots. Mary is shown wearing a red embroidered dress with a high ruff, a gold cap and a cross at her neck. The frame is papier-mâché with ormolu mounts formed to resemble shells and a crown.

No comments: