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Prince Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (1594-1612)

Henry Frederick, was the eldest son of James I and Anne of Denmark. Rather than leaving him to be educated in Scotland when they moved to England in 1603, his mother kept him close and raised him at her court, full of culture, music and art. He received an advanced classical education and was intelligent, brave, athletic and very highly regarded.

In 1610, the year that Isaac Oliver the miniaturist made this work, Henry was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester aged 16; thereafter he established his own household and continued his passion for tournaments and for theatre and art. Beautiful armour had been made for him and elaborate masques produced for him by Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones. At Richmond Palace he oversaw the creation of splendid Italianate water gardens under French and Italian engineers and designers.

Henry amassed a fine collection of works of art including pictures, sculpture and medals from classical antiquity and the Renaissance. He favoured art from the Netherlands and Venice, on biblical or mythological themes. Fine works by Tintoretto and Palma Giovane came from Venice to adorn his walls, and diplomatic gifts from the Dutch also came in pictorial form. The Florentines, under Duke Cosimo de' Medici, hoped that Cosimo's sister, Caterina de' Medici would marry Henry. They sent 15 small statues in bronze after Giambologna, the court sculptor. One of these may remain in the collection today.

Henry was also a great scholar and the magnificent library of Lord Lumley, incorporating much of the Earl of Arundel’s library, was transferred to him in 1609 at Lumley's death. This seems to have included the astonishingly accomplished Holbein drawings, a highlight of the collection today. These had belonged to Henry VIII but had passed out of the royal collection after the death of Edward VI. Henry also appointed a Dutchman, Abraham van der Doort, to keep a record of his works of art - the first keeper of the Royal Collection.

Tragically Henry's health was never robust and, to great shock and national mourning, he died aged 18, probably from typhoid fever.


Objects associated with Prince Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (1594-1612)