James, Duke of York, later James II thumbnail 1
James, Duke of York, later James II thumbnail 2
+4
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery

James, Duke of York, later James II

Portrait Miniature
1660-1661 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The word ‘miniature’ describes a technique of painting in watercolour rather than the size of a painting. Miniature painting developed as a separate art in the 16th century and in Britain it became predominantly a portrait art.

Samuel Cooper had first set up established his independent miniature practice in London in 1642, the year that civil war broke out and King Charles I abandoned London for the safety of York. Cooper was not untouched personally by the years of war leading to the execution of Charles I in 1649. The poet Alexander Pope, the nephew of Cooper’s wife Christina, wrote that she ‘had three Brothers, one of whom was kill’d, another died in the service of King Charles’. Professionally, however, Cooper flourished, and during the Commonwealth period he was employed by Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector. At the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 Cooper’s reputation as the foremost artist in England secured him the patronage of the returned royal family, to which he responded with an enriched style. His flesh painting became more full bodied, noticeably so to contemporaries such as Samuel Pepys, who thought ‘the colouring of the flesh to be a little forced’.

Today, albeit with fading, this portrait of the Duke of York does not seem unnaturally sanguine. Overall the effect is less austere than Cooper’s style during the Commonwealth period, the lighting less dramatic and so the relief of the sitter’s features is less marked. Its softer, lighter style, however, does not lessen the dignity and presence of the sitter. The Duke particularly retains a serious reserve appropriate for the second son of the ‘martyred’ Charles I.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour on vellum put down on a leaf from a table-book in a gilded frame
Brief Description
Portrait miniature of James, Duke of York, watercolour on vellum, painted by Samuel Cooper, 1660-1661.
Physical Description
Portrait, half-length, to right and looking to front. Features firmly hatched in brown and sanguine, with some blue-grey and some white heightening blended over a thick warm carnation ground; hair in pale brown wash, hatched in darker brown with some opaque lights; sleeves in ochre wash with touches of silver and gold; collar in white over grey wash; armour washed and hatched in grey with white lights; the Garter ribbon in blue hatched in darker colour; background a grey wash, blending with sky and clouds in washes of blue and grey gouache to right; on vellum put down on a leaf from a table-book.
Dimensions
  • Height: 80mm
  • Width: 64mm
Dimensions taken from John Murdoch Seventeenth-century English Miniatures in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: The Stationery Office, 1997.
Content description
Portrait of a man with long hair, turned to right.
Styles
Production typeUnique
Marks and Inscriptions
'SC [interlaced] [16]61.' (Signed in gold, centre left)
Credit line
Purchased with Art Fund support
Object history
Provenance: Richard Graham, at whose sale 6 March 1711/ 12, lot 51, bt James Seamer on behalf of James Sotheby; by descent among the Sotheby heirlooms at Ecton Hall; Sotheby's 11 October 1955, lot 44, bt Becker on behalf of the Museum.

Subjects depicted
Summary
The word ‘miniature’ describes a technique of painting in watercolour rather than the size of a painting. Miniature painting developed as a separate art in the 16th century and in Britain it became predominantly a portrait art.



Samuel Cooper had first set up established his independent miniature practice in London in 1642, the year that civil war broke out and King Charles I abandoned London for the safety of York. Cooper was not untouched personally by the years of war leading to the execution of Charles I in 1649. The poet Alexander Pope, the nephew of Cooper’s wife Christina, wrote that she ‘had three Brothers, one of whom was kill’d, another died in the service of King Charles’. Professionally, however, Cooper flourished, and during the Commonwealth period he was employed by Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector. At the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 Cooper’s reputation as the foremost artist in England secured him the patronage of the returned royal family, to which he responded with an enriched style. His flesh painting became more full bodied, noticeably so to contemporaries such as Samuel Pepys, who thought ‘the colouring of the flesh to be a little forced’.



Today, albeit with fading, this portrait of the Duke of York does not seem unnaturally sanguine. Overall the effect is less austere than Cooper’s style during the Commonwealth period, the lighting less dramatic and so the relief of the sitter’s features is less marked. Its softer, lighter style, however, does not lessen the dignity and presence of the sitter. The Duke particularly retains a serious reserve appropriate for the second son of the ‘martyred’ Charles I.
Bibliographic Reference
Murdoch, John. Seventeenth-century English Miniatures in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: The Stationery Office, 1997.
Collection
Accession Number
P.45-1955

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdDecember 15, 1999
Record URL