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Louis Gabriel Blanchet (1705-72)

Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720-88) Signed and dated 1739

Oil on canvas | 97.8 x 72.5 x 1.8 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 401208

Ante-Chamber, Palace of Holyroodhouse

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  • This distinguished portrait and its pair - of the sitter's brother Henry Benedict Stuart (1725-1807) - are arguably Blanchet's most memorable creations. They combine exciting handling and colour with direct characterisation. They were part of a group of four portraits, the other pair depicting the brothers' parents, which was commissioned by William Hay, Prince Charles Edward's Groom of the Bedchamber, and sent from Rome to Scotland in 1741, via James Edgar, the Prince's secretary. This portrait and its pair were acquired from Hay's descendants by Her Majesty The Queen in 1966.

    Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720-88), the Young Pretender, embodied the hopes of the Stuart cause in exile. His portrait was reproduced in numerous forms that could be disseminated widely, both as propaganda and as gifts for supporters. Here he is shown in breastplate and pauldron (shoulder-plate), an ermine cape around him, wearing the Orders of the Garter and the Thistle. He was 19 years old at the time of the sitting and is portrayed as a confident warrior-prince.

    Born and brought up in Rome, the Prince made several efforts to regain the British throne for his father James Francis Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender), the son of the exiled King James II. The King had been forced to flee England during the Glorious Revolution of 1688 when his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange replaced him on the throne. Prince Charles Edward Stuart was finally defeated at Culloden in 1746 and lived in exile in France and Italy for the rest of his life.

    Louis-Gabriel Blanchet was one of the most important French painters to make his career entirely in Rome during the eighteenth century. He participated in the transition from the late Baroque style to the revival of the more severe classicising manner that marked the end of the century.

    Signed and dated LG Blanchet / fecit 1739

    Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002

    Commissioned in Rome by William Hay; by descent to Lt-Col G.H.Hay (of Duns Castle, Berwickshire); his sale, Christie's, London 25 March 1966 (83) where purchased by Queen Elizabeth II

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas


    97.8 x 72.5 x 1.8 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    119.5 x 95.0 cm (frame, external)

  • Alternative title(s)

    Prince Charles Edward Stuart, called the Young Pretender (1705-72)