Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland

Samuel Shelley


This tiny miniature of Prince Henry Frederick is linked to a slightly earlier portrait of the Prince, also by Samuel Shelley, that resides in the Royal Collection. Both show the Prince wearing the blue sash of the Order of the Garter, an order he was appointed to in 1767, with the tip of Garter Star also visible.

Born in 1749, Prince Henry Frederick was the fourth son of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales and his wife, Augusta. He was the younger brother of the future George III. In 1766, he was created Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn and appointed Ranger of Windsor Forest and Great Park, a role normally reserved for the monarch. Two years later he joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman. Promotion to rear-admiral followed in 1769 and to vice-admiral in 1770.

Prince Henry was renowned for his many amorous affairs and liaisons: he was successfully sued by Lord Grosvenor for ‘criminal conversation’ with Lady Grosvenor. His secret marriage in 1771 to Anne Horton, a commoner and a widow, displeased his brother so much that Henry was temporarily banished from the Court. It also prompted the introduction of The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 forbidding descendants of King George II to marry without Royal consent. Settling at Cumberland House on Pall Mall, the Cumberlands were great patrons of the arts indulging in extravagant entertainments often with high stake gambling. Upon the Duke’s death in 1790, his wife was obliged to surrender their home to the banks.

Coming from a modest background and self-taught, Samuel Shelley entered the Royal Academy Schools at the age of seventeen and exhibited widely between 1772 and 1804. His miniatures are critically acclaimed and are well-represented in all the major galleries. His death in December 1808 after a short illness was announced in the London papers without fanfare.

APHA Registered

Item Ref. 9137J

Size: 36 x 31mm

Provenance: Purchased from Philip Mould Ltd by the current vendor