This royal hunting portrait was modeled after an earlier type established by Netherlandish and German artists. The young Prince Henry sheathes his sword while his companion, Sir John Harington, holds the deer's antlers. The light palette and rich decorative effect are hallmarks of Peake's style.
Prince Henry was the son of Anne of Denmark and James VI of Scotland, who after the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603 succeeded as James I of England. The prince is depicted here at the age of nine at the climax of the hunt, striking a ceremonial blow to the neck of the dead stag, while his companion Sir John Harington, who was two years older, holds the antlers. Harington's father, the first Baron Harington of Exton, writing in 1606, mentioned that his son was with the prince, “from whom I hope he will gain great advantage from such towardly genius as he hath, even at these years” (Wiffen 1833). In 1603, the Haringtons had been placed in charge of the upbringing of the prince's sister Elizabeth, who remained with them until her marriage.
In 1741 George Vertue saw this picture at Wroxton Abbey, and it was described there by Thomas Warton in 1772. The work may have descended in the North family, or, alternatively, in the family of the Earls of Downe, passing to the Norths through Frances, daughter of the third Earl, who in 1672 married Francis North, Baron Guilford, and who later inherited Wroxton Abbey. Most likely, as it apparently never belonged to the royal family, the first owner would have been Baron Harington of Exton.
Writing in 1963, Roy Strong, on the advice of Oliver Millar, was the first to attribute the portrait to Robert Peake the Elder. More recently, it has been associated with a 1603 portrait by Peake of the prince's sister Elizabeth (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London). A slightly later version of this composition, in which Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex, replaces Sir John Harington, is in the Royal Collection.
This is an important early example of the dismounted equestrian portrait, which would have such a long life in English art, and Peake’s elaborate landscape setting establishes a groundbreaking precedent. Prince Henry’s bold pose reiterates a pattern famously devised by Holbein for his portrait of Henry VIII in the mural at Whitehall Palace (destroyed 1698). What Peake fails to convey, however, is the lively physicality and precocious maturity of the much admired, short-lived young prince.
The painting was engraved by Clamp after a drawing by Samuel Harding (ill. in Harding 1795).
[2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]
Inscription: Dated and inscribed: (center left) 1603 / fe / Æ·11·; (lower left) Sir John Harrington.; (upper right) 1603 / fe / Æ ·9·; (lower right) Henry Frederick Prince of Wales Son /of King James the 1st.
?the sitter's father, 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. 1668); ?Francis North, 1st Baron Guilford, Wroxton Abbey (1672–d. 1685); Francis North, 7th Baron North and 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; as by Van Somer); William Henry John North, 11th Baron North, Wroxton Abbey (1894–1914); [Agnew, London, 1914–16; as by Isaac Oliver; sold to Davison]; Henry Pomeroy Davison, Locust Valley, N.Y. (1916–d. 1922); Mrs. Henry Pomeroy (Kate T.) Davison, Locust Valley and New York (1922–44; sold through Duveen to MMA)
Manchester. Art Treasures Palace. "Art Treasures of the United Kingdom," May 5–October 17, 1857, no. 39 (as by Vansomer, lent by Colonel North).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "British Art," January–March 1934, no. 25 (as Attributed to Isaac Oliver, lent by Lord Duveen, London).
New York. Duveen. "Forty British Portraits," April 9–30, 1940, no. 1 (as by Isaac Oliver).
New York. World's Fair. "Masterpieces of Art: European & American Paintings, 1500–1900," May–October 1940, no. 163 (as by Isaac Oliver).
Art Gallery of Toronto. "An Exhibition of Great Paintings in Aid of the Canadian Red Cross and of Small Pictures by Members of the Ontario Society of Artists," November 15–December 15, 1940, no. 1 (as by Isaac Oliver, lent by Duveen).
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Masterpieces of Painting," February 5–March 8, 1942, no. 81 (as by Isaac Oliver, lent by Duveen Galleries, New York).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art Treasures of the Metropolitan," November 7, 1952–September 7, 1953, no. 104 (as by an Unknown British Painter, active in 1603).
New Haven. Yale Center for British Art. "Great British Paintings from American Collections: Holbein to Hockney," September 27–December 30, 2001, no. 2.
San Marino, Calif. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. "Great British Paintings from American Collections: Holbein to Hockney," February 3–May 5, 2002, no. 2.
London. Tate Britain. "Van Dyck & Britain," February 18–May 17, 2009, no. 1 (as "Henry, Prince of Wales, and Sir John Harington in the Hunting Field").
George Vertue. Notebook entry. 1741 [published in "Vertue Note Books Volume IV" in Walpole Society 24 (1935–36), pp. 191–92], sees the picture at Wroxton Abbey in 1741 and describes it at length.
Thomas Warton. The Life of Sir Thomas Pope, Founder of Trinity College Oxford. London, 1772, p. 414 n. a, as at Wroxton; describes it and discusses the prince's fondness for hunting.
J[ames]. Granger. A Biographical History of England from Egbert the Great to the Revolution. 3rd ed. London, 1779, vol. 1, p. 337, as at Wroxton.
Thomas Pennant. Some Account of London. 3rd ed. London, 1793, p. 117 [4th ed., 1805, p. 98], mentions it as another version of the portrait in the Royal Collection, mistakenly believing that both works depict the earl of Essex.
Sylvester Harding. The Biographical Mirrour. London, 1795, vol. 2, pp. 53, 58, ill. (Clamp engraving).
John Nichols. The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities, of King James the First. . . London, 1828, vol. 1, p. 528, ill. (Clamp engraving).
J[eremiah]. H[olmes]. Wiffen. Historical Memoirs of the House of Russell, from the Time of the Norman Conquest. London, 1833, vol. 2, p. 82 n. 1, assumes that the picture was commissioned by the prince.
W. Bürger [Théophile Thoré]. Trésors d'art en Angleterre. Brussels, 1860, p. 351, as a portrait of Henry, Prince of Wales, by Paul van Somer, belonging to Colonel North.
Claude Phillips. The Picture Gallery of Charles I. London, 1896, p. 11, mentions two examples of the hunting portrait of Henry, Prince of Wales, no. 400 at Hampton Court (where he is shown with Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex) and another at Wroxton.
Ernest Law. The Royal Gallery of Hampton Court. London, 1898, p. 158, no. 400, of the two, calls the Wroxton portrait of Prince Henry with Sir John Harington, dated 1603, the original, noting that on April 23, 1603 the king and prince were entertained by Sir John Harington (the father) at Burley-on-the-Hill and "had most excellent sport with Sir John's best hounds with good mouthes following the game, the King taking great leisure & pleasure in the same".
Charles Latham. In English Homes. Vol. 1, London, 1904, p. 173, ill. [3rd ed., vol. 1, 1909], illustrates it hanging over the mantel in the garden parlor at Wroxton Abbey, noting that an exact replica is at Hampton Court.
Lionel Cust. "Marcus Gheeraerts." Walpole Society 3 (1913–14), p. 28, no. 4a, pl. XXXIVa, attributes it to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, calls the Hampton Court picture "the later of the two, and by a different hand".
Lionel Cust. "A Portrait called 'Henry, Prince of Wales, by Isaac Oliver'." Burlington Magazine 24 (March 1914), pp. 347–48, as probably by Paul van Somer (1576–1621), one of two versions, questioning whether either can be as early as 1603.
M[ary]. Chamot. "Sporting Pictures at Burlington House." Country Life 75 (January 13, 1934), p. 32, fig. 2.
W. G. Constable and Charles Johnson, ed. Commemorative Catalogue of the Exhibition of British Art. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London. Oxford, 1935, p. 11, no. 25, pl. XII,, as Attributed to Isaac Oliver, noting that a replica with slight differences is at Hampton Court.
Alfred M. Frankfurter. "383 Masterpieces of Art." Art News, (The 1940 Annual), 38 (May 25, 1940), p. 34.
Margaret Miller. "Notes from New York." Apollo 38 (June 1940), p. 167.
Helen Comstock. "The Connoisseur in America: Forty British Portraits." Connoisseur 106 (August 1940), p. 28.
Elizabeth E. Gardner. "A British Hunting Portrait." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 3 (January 1945), pp. 113–17, ill. p. 115 and on cover (color detail), supplies the historical context, and rejects the attribution to Isaac Oliver but cannot propose another.
Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 1, ill. (color detail, frontispiece); vol. 2, pp. 562–63, no. 1471, ill. (cropped).
J. F. Kerslake. Letter to Mrs. H. D. Allen. July 10, 1956, believes it to be by the same hand as the two portraits of young women reproduced by Cust.
Julius S. Held. "'Le Roi à la Ciasse'." Art Bulletin 40 (March 1958), pp. 144–46, fig. 3, as British school, provides the iconographic source in the English edition of "Turbervile's Booke of Hunting" (London, 1576; 2nd ed., 1611; repr., Oxford, 1908, p. 134) [see fig. 4].
Roy Strong. "Elizabeth Painting: An Approach through Inscriptions—I: Robert Peake the Elder." Burlington Magazine 105 (February 1963), p. 54, notes that Oliver Millar has drawn his attention to this group portrait with an authentic Peake inscription, and dates it between the arrival of Prince Henry in the south in the summer of 1603 and March of the following year.
Oliver Millar. The Tudor, Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen. London, 1963, vol. 1, p. 79, under no. 100, calls it probably by Peake, by comparison with the Hampton Court picture, which is "a later adaptation, possibly by a different hand," datable about 1606–7.
Roy Strong. "Forgotten Age of English Painting: Portraits at Cowdray and Parham, Sussex." Country Life Annual (1966), p. 47.
Roy Strong. The English Icon: Elizabethan & Jacobean Portraiture. London, 1969, pp. 226, 234–35, 243, 246, no. 201, ill. (overall and details), ascribes it to Robert Peake the Elder (fl. 1576–?d. 1626), lists eighteen paintings similarly inscribed, one of which is signed, and notes that after the accession of James I Peake became Prince Henry's chief painter.
Anthony Powell. "Review of Ormond 1977." Apollo 106 (July 1977), p. 79.
Richard Ormond. The Face of Monarchy: British Royalty Portrayed. Oxford, 1977, p. 187, pl. 69.
Yvonne Hackenbroch. Renaissance Jewellery. London, 1979, p. 305, figs. 806A–B (overall and detail).
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 268, 273, fig. 480.
Roy Strong inThe Treasure Houses of Britain: Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting. Ed. Gervase Jackson-Stops. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1985, p. 132, mentions it in connection with Peake's equestrian portrait of Prince Henry, painted about 1610, from Parham Park.
Roy Strong. Henry, Prince of Wales. London, 1986, p. 114, fig. 24, describes the two portraits in landscape settings as "a quite unprecedented innovation in royal portraiture".
Walter Liedtke. The Royal Horse and Rider: Painting, Sculpture, and Horsemanship, 1500–1800. New York, 1989, pp. 255, 257, pl. 123.
Mark Weiss. "Elizabeth of Bohemia by Robert Peake: The Problem of Identification Solved." Apollo 132 (December 1990), pp. 409–10 nn. 11–14, 16–17, fig. 1.
Roger Quarm. "Robert Peake's Portrait of Elizabeth of Bohemia." National Art Collections Fund Annual Report 87 (1991), pp. 104, 106–7, observes that the 1603 portraits of Prince Henry and Princess Elizabeth were "the first image[s] of the Stuart Royal family, newly arrived in England" and that both were probably commissioned by Lord and Lady Harington.
Christopher Lloyd. The Queen's Pictures: Old Masters from the Royal Collection. [London], 1994, p. 38.
Karen Hearn inDynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England, 1530–1630. Exh. cat., Tate Gallery. [London], 1995, pp. 185, 187, fig. 49, notes that the 1603 portrait of Princess Elizabeth appears to be the pendant, mentioning the corresponding figures engaged in the chase in the background of that painting.
David Howarth. Images of Rule: Art and Politics in the English Renaissance, 1485–1649. Berkeley, 1997, pp. 132–33, ill.
Mark L. Evans inPrinces as Patrons: The Art Collections of the Princes of Wales from the Renaissance to the Present Day. Exh. cat., National Museums and Galleries of Wales, Cardiff. London, 1998, p. 25.
Jonathan Brown inVelázquez, Rubens y Van Dyck: Pintores cortesanos del siglo XVII. Ed. Jonathan Brown. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, , pp. 58, 101.
Katharine Baetjer. "British Portraits in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 (Summer 1999), pp. 9–10, ill. (color).
Julia Marciari Alexander inGreat British Paintings from American Collections: Holbein to Hockney. Exh. cat., Yale Center for British Art, Yale University. New Haven, 2001, pp. 49–52, no. 2, ill. (color).
Elizabeth A. Pergam. "From Manchester to Manhattan: The Transatlantic Art Trade After 1857." Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 87, no. 2 (2005), pp. 82, 87, 89.
James Taylor inRule Britannia! Art, Royalty & Power in the Age of Jamestown. Exh. cat., Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond, 2007, p. 30, under no. 6.
Karen Hearn inVan Dyck & Britain. Ed. Karen Hearn. Exh. cat., Tate Britain. London, 2009, pp. 39, 42–45, 242, no. 1, ill. (color), as "Henry, Prince of Wales, and Sir John Harington in the Hunting Field".
Kevin Sharpe inVan Dyck & Britain. Ed. Karen Hearn. Exh. cat., Tate Britain. London, 2009, p. 18.
Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 11–13, no. 5, ill. (color).
Catharine MacLeod. The Lost Prince: The Life & Death of Henry Stuart. Exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery. London, 2012, pp. 35–39, 41 n. 9, pp. 59, 70, fig. 12 (color), discusses it in connection with two other portraits of Prince Henry by Peake (Parham House, Pulborough, and Palazzo Reale, Turin); relates the prince's pose to images of the Archangel Michael.
Mark Hallett. Reynolds: Portraiture in Action. New Haven, 2014, pp. 239, 456 n. 65, fig. 220 (color), mentions it in connection with Reynolds's portrait of Lord Sydney and Colonel John Acland known as "The Archers" of 1769 (Tate, London).