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Princess Elizabeth (1596–1662), Later Queen of Bohemia

Robert Peake the Elder (British, ca. 1551–1619 London)

ca. 1606
Oil on canvas
60 3/4 x 31 1/4 in. (154.3 x 79.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Kate T. Davison, in memory of her husband, Henry Pomeroy Davison, 1951
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Elizabeth, sister of Prince Henry and of the future Charles I, was about ten years old when this portrait was painted.

  • Catalogue Entry

    Elizabeth was the only daughter of James VI of Scotland and I of England and Anne of Denmark. She was two years younger than Henry, Prince of Wales (1594–1612), depicted in another portrait by Peake in the Museum's collection (44.27), and four years older than Prince Charles (1600–1649), later Charles I. In 1603 she accompanied her mother and older brother to England and thereafter grew up in the care of Lord and Lady Harington of Exton, living principally at Combe Abbey, near Coventry. Princess Elizabeth married Frederick V (1596–1632), Count Palatine of the Rhine, in 1613. Her husband accepted the crown of Bohemia in 1619, but within the year his troops had been defeated by the Catholic armies and the royal couple fled to the Netherlands, where they established a court in exile in The Hague. Elizabeth, who spent most of her life there, died a royal refugee in London in 1662. Her youngest daughter, Sophia, married Ernst August of Brunswick in 1658 and became the mother of the future King George I of England.

    This painting must have precisely the same history as the Musem's portrait of her brother. It was sold by Agnew’s in 1916 as Elizabeth I of England by Federico Zuccaro. Roy Strong proposed the attribution to Peake, probably in the early 1960s. He believed that the sitter was Princess Elizabeth and noted that she wears the same jeweled chain in a miniature by Nicholas Hilliard (Victoria and Albert Museum, London) as well as in a painting that has since been ascribed to Peake (National Portrait Gallery, London; see Strong 1964, 1969, and 1983]. Based on the sitter’s age, a date of about 1606 has been suggested.

    The loose, twining patterns of brightly colored leaves, flowers, and insects on the sitter's dress are duplicated in the tighter design of a rare silk-embroidered linen jacket (Victoria and Albert Museum, London) said to have been worn in the years 1610–20. The "tablet" mentioned in her book refers to a flat, table-cut jewel of the sort she wears in her hair and of which the chain suspended from her shoulder is composed: the black color indicates that these are diamonds. The text suggests that instead of jewelry, the Catholic queen offered her beloved, absent daughter, a Protestant, a blessing in the form of a devotional text.

    When the canvas came to the Museum, it was inscribed at the lower left with the name “Elizabeth Queen of England.” This proved to be a later addition, and was removed during restoration in 1997. The state of preservation of the picture is in general very fine.

    [2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscribed: (on book) No Tablet [flat inscribed jewel] / For thy brest / Thy Chr[ist]ian mo / ther gives hir / Dattere What / Jewell Fits hir / best A boke not / big but yet ther / in Some hidden / Vertu is So christ / So christ Procur. you / grace with / God And / Give you / endles / [bliss?]

  • Provenance

    ?John Harington, 1st Baron Harington of Exton (until d. 1613); ?by descent to Thomas Pope, 4th Earl of Downe, Wroxton Abbey, near Banbury (until d. 1667); ?Sir Francis North, 1st Baron Guilford, Wroxton Abbey (1672–d. 1685); Sir Francis North, 7th Baron North and later 1st Earl of Guilford, Wroxton Abbey (by 1741–d. 1790); by descent to Susan, Baroness North, and Colonel John Sydney Doyle North, Wroxton Abbey (by 1857–his d. 1894); William Henry John North, 11th Baron North, Wroxton Abbey (1894–1914); [Agnew, London, 1914–16; as Elizabeth, Queen of England, by Zucchero; sold to Davison]; Henry Pomeroy Davison, Locust Valley, N.Y. (1916–d. 1922); Mrs. Henry Pomeroy (Kate T.) Davison, Locust Valley and New York (1922–51)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. American Museum of Natural History. "The Nature of Diamonds," November 1, 1997–April 26, 1998, not in catalogue.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion," May 3–September 4, 2006, unnumbered cat. (p. 148).

    Richmond. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. "Rule Britannia! Art, Royalty & Power in the Age of Jamestown," April 28–August 12, 2007, no. 6.

    London. Tate Britain. "Van Dyck & Britain," February 18–May 17, 2009, no. 2 (as "Portrait of Princess Elizabeth").

  • References

    Lionel Cust. "Marcus Gheeraerts." Walpole Society 3 (1913–14), p. 45, pl. XXVa, as a portrait probably by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger at Wroxton Abbey, "at some time called Queen Elizabeth, with an occasional variation into Elizabeth of Bohemia".

    "Recent Accessions." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 10 (May 1952), p. 263, ill., as "Portrait of a Young Lady," by Gheeraerts.

    Ellis Waterhouse. Letter to Elizabeth Gardner. May 7, 1952, suggests a date in the 1590s and supposes the sitter to be a North or a member of the Pope family, earls of Downe.

    Roy Strong. Letter. [before 1964] [letter unlocated; transcript on catalogue card], attributes it to Robert Peake the Elder.

    J. F. Kerslake. Letter to Mrs. H. D. Allen. July 10, 1956, believes it to be by the same hand as the other portrait of a young woman at Wroxton, reproduced by Cust, and the hunting portrait of Prince Henry at the Metropolitan Museum.

    David Piper. Letter to Mrs. H. D. Allen. February 5, 1957, agrees with Kerslake and suggests a date in the first decade of the seventeenth century.

    Roy Strong. The English Icon: Elizabethan & Jacobean Portraiture. London, 1969, pp. 226, 242, no. 214, ill., identifies it as Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, painted about 1600–1605 by Robert Peake the Elder, by comparison with Hilliard's miniature at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in which she wears the same jewelled chain.

    Roy Strong in Artists of the Tudor Court: The Portrait Miniature Rediscovered, 1520–1620. Exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 1983, p. 149, under no. 247, points out that the sitter wears some of the same jewelry in a miniature portrait in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

    Oliver Millar. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. May 4, 1990, remains uncertain about the attribution to Peake and the identification of the sitter as Elizabeth of Bohemia.

    Malcolm Rogers. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. July 31, 1990, affirms the attribution to Peake.

    Mark Weiss. "Elizabeth of Bohemia by Robert Peake: The Problem of Identification Solved." Apollo 132 (December 1990), pp. 409–10 nn. 9, 11–13, 15, fig. 2, publishes it in connection with Peake's portrait of Elizabeth of Bohemia at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, dates it about 1606–9, noting that it is "now confidently thought also to be" Princess Elizabeth.

    Katharine Baetjer. "British Portraits in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 (Summer 1999), pp. 10–13, ill. (color, overall and details).

    Richard Ormond in Rule Britannia! Art, Royalty & Power in the Age of Jamestown. Exh. cat., Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond, 2007, p. 13, ill. p. 8 (color detail).

    James Taylor in Rule Britannia! Art, Royalty & Power in the Age of Jamestown. Exh. cat., Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond, 2007, pp. 30–31, no. 6, ill. (color).

    Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 14–16, no. 6, ill. (color).

    Karen Hearn in Van Dyck & Britain. Exh. cat., Tate Britain. London, 2009, pp. 39, 44–45, 57, 82, 242, no. 2, ill. (color).

    Susan North in Van Dyck & Britain. Exh. cat., Tate Britain. London, 2009, p. 128.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History