Rare King James II Miniature Portrait c. 1690
Miniature portraits play a very important role in the world of the collector. To know the identity of the sitter is a veritable coup; to possess one of a Royal from the 17th century is to hold history in one's hand.
Rendered in watercolor on vellum or parchment is a portrait in miniature of James II of the House of Stuart. Rare, not only in subject matter but in that it is still covered with its original glass. Facing right in a head and shoulders position, James II is depicted wearing a long full-bottomed curling wig of shades of chestnut brown. His expression is one of sadness with his mouth set, perhaps resigned to his state of exile. Draped around his neck, below a white lace jabot is a royal cypher suspended from a light blue ribbon against a robe of darker blue. He appears to be seated against a high backed chair. In the background to his right rests a crown rendered in shades of pinkish-red. The oval portrait is set within a silver gilt backed case appointed with a silver twisted wire border and scalloped edges.
Condition: Very good for the case and miniature especially for its great age; the glass has developed heavy craquelure* which in part makes the image appear more faded than it is in reality but is still fine. Heavy patina on the silver sides and border which we have left intact; some patina to the reverse.
Measurements: 1-15/16 inches (4.9 cm) in length not including top loop and 2-1/8 inches (5.4 cm) with by 1-5/8 inches (4 cm) in width. This miniature portrait has a weight of 19.6 grams (12.6 dwt).
Date & Origin: Circa 1680 and is English in origin.
*The pattern of tiny cracks and fine lines which can occur in glass over time.
Historical Notes: James II (second son of Charles I) succeeded his brother, Charles II, to the throne. He began his reign as king of Great Britain in 1685. Unhappy with his policies on religion and his belief in absolute power over the lives of his subjects, the English Parliament considered James II to have abdicated in 1688 and the following year the Scottish Parliament stated that he had forfeited his throne. Subsequently, he was involved in the Civil War and in 1690 fled in exile to France at the court of his cousin, Louis XIV until his death in 1701.