Princess Elizabeth (1596–1662), Later Queen of Bohemia, ca. 1606
Robert Peake the Elder (British, active by 1576, died 1619)
Oil on canvas
60 3/4 x 31 1/4 in. (154.3 x 79.4 cm)
Gift of Kate T. Davison, in memory of her husband, Henry Pomeroy Davison,
The visual arts under the Tudors had been devoted to the enhancement of
kingship. James I, who ascended the English throne on the death of Elizabeth
I in 1603, retained various artists in service, thus preserving an iconic
tradition of representation that was old-fashioned by Continental standards.
Peake was a representative of that tradition. He was principal painter to
James's son, the brilliant and precocious Henry Frederick, prince of Wales,
until the prince's untimely death in 1612.
The sitter here is Elizabeth, younger sister of Henry Frederick and the
future Charles I. The same delicately shaped face and poignant expression
may be seen in portraits of her by the miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard.
Typical are the smoothly modeled hands and face; the flat patterns of the
lace, embroidery, carpet, and background; and the interest in intricate
naturalistic details. The inscription on the princess's book refers to a
"tablet," a flat or table-cut jewel, and the chain around her bodice is
composed of diamonds of this kind. The lines of verse suggest that instead
of jewelry, the Roman Catholic Queen Anne had offered her absent daughter a
blessing in the form of a devotional text.
When Princess Elizabeth's father succeeded to the throne, she was placed in
the care of Lord and Lady Harrington. In 1613, after a short period at the
royal court, she married with great ceremony Frederick V (1596–1632),
elector palatine, one of the most eligible bachelors in Europe. In 1619, he
was elected king of Bohemia; in 1620, he was driven from the throne, and the
couple spent the rest of their lives as royal refugees.
Source: Robert Peake the Elder: Princess Elizabeth (1596-1662), Later Queen
of Bohemia (51.194.1) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan
Museum of Art