Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (1594-1612) eldest son of King James VI & I

  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall

    This is one of several portraits depicting Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (1594-1612) which follow a similar pattern: the sitter is shown half-length and wearing a distinctive square-shaped lace collar and jousting armour hinting at his favourite pastime. Robert Peake was employed as the official painter of Prince Henry from 1603 and was given the responsibility of painting official images of the prince. Peake also carried out the decoration of Henry’s warship, ‘Prince Royal’, for which he painted ‘diverse histories’ within the cabins.

    Henry Frederick was the eldest son of James I and VI and Anne of Denmark. As a result of his mother’s Catholic background, he was immediately separated from her and kept under the guardianship of the Earl of Mar until 1603. Aged 16, he became Prince of Wales during an elaborate ceremony at Westminster Cathedral; an event which was followed by a full year of festivities, including masques, pageants and performances. A keen patron of the arts, Henry collected Italian and Netherlandish Renaissance paintings, and supported musicians, scientists and writers of the time. In October 1612 he fell suddenly ill with typhoid fever and died on 6 November at the age of just 18.

  • About the artist
    Robert Peake came from a Lincolnshire family. He was apprenticed to a London goldsmith in 1565 and worked as a decorative painter at the court of Elizabeth I in 1576. Peake was appointed Serjeant Painter to James I after his accession in 1607, a post Peake shared with John de Critz (c.1552-1642). Peake was later official artist to Henry, Prince of Wales and may have been his official portraitist. Other examples of his portraits of the Prince are in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the Royal Collection, Windsor.
  • Explore
    Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales
    Materials & Techniques
    panel, oil, oil painting
  • Details
    Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (1594-1612) eldest son of King James VI & I
    Oil on panel
    height: 56.50 cm, width: 44.00 cm
    Purchased from Mrs Alford (Nan Broackes), December 1957
    Collection of Mrs Alford (Nan Broackes); from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in December 1957
    GAC number