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Hanoverians

George II, King of Great Britain (1683-1760)

George II was the only son of George I; like his father, after his accession he continued to spend much time in Hanover. In 1705 he married Caroline of Ansbach (died 1737); their children included Frederick, Prince of Wales, and William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.

George did not have a great relationship with his father, moving out of St James's Palace in 1717 and living at Leicester House in central London and at Richmond Lodge, on the edge of the deer park at Richmond. Later he used Kensington as his chief London residence, particularly after the Queen’s death. The flourishing of art and artists during his reign is due to his intelligent and cultivated wife, Caroline of Ansbach.

Although George II and his father were at odds, in fact the two shared some elements of similar interest in music and in architecture. George II also patronised Handel whose Music for the Royal Fireworks celebrated the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. At Kensington, Charles Bridgeman designed the vast extension of the gardens into Hyde Park (including the ‘Round’ Pond, and Serpentine) and the garden buildings were designed by William Kent, both undoubtedly through Caroline's patronage. Kent was also involved in the redecoration and refurnishing of Kensington Palace and was engaged to restore the Rubens ceiling in the Banqueting House.

Some of the most notable portrait commissions in George II's reign were from the miniature painter, German-born Christian Zincke. He made several highly-finished, detailed enamel portraits of George and Caroline and their children.

George II presented the Old Royal Library, accumulated over many centuries, to the newly-founded British Museum in 1757 (and now held in the British Library). This was a collection of valuable manuscripts and about 9,000 printed books. It is referred to as the 'Old Royal library' to help distinguish it from a later gift of books and manuscripts from George IV 'The King's collection'.

Reigned: 1727–60


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