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Gerrit van Honthorst (Utrecht 1590-1656)

The Four eldest Children of the King and Queen of Bohemia Signed and dated 1631

RCIN 404971

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The three young princes are portrayed as hunters in an Arcadian woodland setting. They pay homage to their sister Princess Elizabeth who represents Diana, goddess of the chase and the moon. In the centre Prince Rupert is dressed as a classical soldier in a tunic decorated with ‘pteruges’ (strips of leather or fabric) and a red cloak (‘sagum’), a symbolic garment of war during the Roman Republic. Initially the use of the Roman military habit was limited to history subjects or portraits depicting a sitter in the guise of an allegorical or historical figure as seen here. Later in the seventeenth century however it was adopted by many monarchs – including Charles II of England and Louis XIV of France – for their portraits, as an antidote to frequently changing fashionable styles and to align themselves with successful military leaders from antiquity.