Henry, Prince of Wales is depicted in an angled pose and with a distinctive square-shaped lace collar. These features are seen in another portrait of the Prince by Robert Peake, in the collection of the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The earliest known portrait by Peake also depicts ‘Henry, Prince of Wales’ (1603; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Peake produced several portraits of the young prince and may have been his official portraitist. The artist was also employed on the decoration of Henry’s warship, ‘Prince Royal’, for which he painted ‘diverse histories’ within the cabins.
The painting considered Peake’s masterpiece is his immense portrait of ‘Henry, Prince of Wales on Horseback’ (Parham Park, East Sussex), which shows Henry accompanied by Time, an elderly, naked, winged figure. In 1612, the year Henry died at the age of just 18, Peake was employed to paint three pictures of Henry’s younger brother, the future King Charles I.
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.
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