William of Orange

In Memoriam


This small ‘limning’ shows King William III (1650-1702) in a full-bottomed wig, lace jabot and blue and red robes with the gold chain of the Knight of the Garter. Behind his shoulder is a skull with an inscription in gold ‘Ob. / Mar / y 8. / 1701’.

William III died on 8 March 1702 after falling from his horse which had slipped on a molehill in Richmond Park. The skull in the portrait suggests this is a commemorative piece but it would appear that the artist either made an error with the year of the King’s death or was confused by the late 17th century conversion from the Julian (Old Style) Calendar to the Gregorian (New Style) Calendar.

William III was a Dutch Protestant and a grandson of Charles I. He married his cousin Mary, the eldest daughter and heir of James II. Upon his death, Jacobites raised their glasses to the ‘little gentleman in black velvet’.

Painted on vellum, the portrait is in fine condition (the colours, especially the gold on the chain, are more vibrant than the photos suggest) and is housed in the original 18ct gold and crystal frame. The frame has suffered some damage to the reverse, as shown.

Similar portraits have been attributed to Peter Hoadley, an amateur artist working at the turn of the 18th century. His mother, Sarah Curtis, was taught by the painter Mary Beale.

Item Ref. 7130

Size: framed, 21 x 19mm + ring

Provenance: Private UK Collection