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The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion

Simon Verelst (1644-1721)

Mary of Modena (1658-1718), when Duchess of York c.1675

Oil on canvas | 126.6 x 103.4 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external) | RCIN 404920

State Entrance, Hillsborough Castle

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This portrait, dated c. 1675, depicts Mary dressed in a richly embroidered riding habit. In the collections of James II and Queen Anne it is recorded next to a companion portrait of James by Verelst which is no longer in the Royal Collection. The painting was presumably painted for the Duchess or her husband, James, Duke of York, later James II. James, Duke of York married Mary of Modena in 1673, after the death of his first wife, Anne Hyde in 1673. James II succeeded his brother Charles II in 1685, however, the Royal Couple’s fervent Catholicism made them unpopular, and in 1688 Mary and her baby son, James, fled to France, followed shortly by the King. Mary never returned to England, and her son was never able to claim the throne.