Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick (1768-1821) Consort of King George IV
Engravingpublished 27 November 1820
About the work
Wearing a classically-inspired velvet dress, with a high-waist, Queen Caroline adopts a formal profile pose. She sits in a Georgian armchair, resting on her ermine cape and holding a letter addressed ‘To His Majesty the King’ in her right hand.Princess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel married her cousin, George, Prince of Wales, on 8 April 1795. The couple had a stormy marriage and Caroline became increasingly unhappy. In 1796, the year their daughter Princess Charlotte was born, they separated and Caroline rented a house in Blackheath. Following their separation, the Prince wrote to her: 'Our inclinations are not in our power; nor should either of us be held answerable to the other, because nature has not made us suitable to each other.' At her new residence in Blackheath, Caroline entertained frequently and is reported to have had several affairs. She later travelled to the Mediterranean, followed by spies sent by her estranged husband who was eager to divorce. When George III died in 1820, Caroline returned to England to claim her position as Queen Consort. To coincide with her return, a portrait was immediately commissioned from James Lonsdale by the Lord Mayor of London. In Meyer's stipple engraving of the portrait, presented by Caroline herself to the City of London on 1 November 1820, Lonsdale describes himself as 'Principal Painter in Ordinary to the Queen', a post he seems to have held since the death of John Opie in 1807). Despite receiving immense public support throughout what became known as her ‘trial’, Caroline was denied her position at the coronation ceremony. She was taken ill just two weeks after her husband was crowned and died on 7 August 1821. This print was made after a painting by James Lonsdale, currently held in the City of London Corporation Art Collection.
About the artist
James Lonsdale was born in Lancaster. He became a pupil of George Romney and a student at the Royal Academy. He first exhibited at the Academy in 1802. On the death of John Opie in 1807, Lonsdale purchased Opie’s house in Berners Street, where he resided for the rest of his life. He was one of the founders of the Society of British Artists. He was also Portrait Painter in Ordinary to the Duke of Sussex and Queen Caroline and a portrait painter to the Beefsteak Society. He painted ‘King John signing the Magna Carta’ for the Duke of Norfolk at Arundel Castle and painted the Emperor of Russia, the King of the Belgians and Archduke Maximilian of Austria. Lonsdale died in Berners Street in January 1839. He left a widow and three sons.