The Lost Prince

Although our blog usually focusses on portraits painted with oils on canvas, today I wanted to share a beautiful likeness drawn on paper, using pencil and white chalk.

Prince Henry

Prince Henry Fredrick Stuart was the eldest son of King James I and Queen Anne of Denmark. Brother to the ill-fated Charles I, Henry was seen as the great hope for the future of the Stuart dynasty. Confident and assured, Henry was immensely popular and loved by the people, while his personal household was one of  learning, culture and art.

Tragically, Henry’s great promise was lost when he died of typhoid fever at the age of just 18, leaving a heartbroken nation in mourning. Surely no heir to the throne, except perhaps Prince Arthur, elder brother of King Henry VIII, has caused such a devastating change in the country’s fortunes and future, simply by dying young. Where Prince Arthur’s early death led, thanks to his brother’s subsequent succession, to the English Reformation and the split from the Pope in Rome, Henry’s death brought about the reign of younger brother Charles, whose lost grip on his nobility and Parliament led to the horrors of the English Civil Wars. How would the 17th century have unfolded had Prince Henry not fallen ill? We can only imagine how England’s landscape would look today had he lived.

This sketch, attributed to Constantino de’ Servi, was created around 1611. Until 2016 it was held in a private collection in France, and is now at the Weiss Gallery in London.

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