A portrait of Henrietta Maria of France by British artist John Hoskins (circa 1590-1664) is sure to be a highlight at Bonhams Fine Portrait Miniatures sale in London's Knightsbridge on November 21st. This oval watercolour on vellum is encased in a silver fausse-montre frame with foliate decoration that measures 72mm (2 13/16in) in height. It is expected to attract £20,000-30,000.
Henrietta Maria was the youngest daughter of the assassinated Henri IV (1553-1610) and his second wife, Marie de' Medici (1575-1642). On 13th June 1625, she married the ill-fated Charles I and moved to England with a collection of expensive gowns, fine furnishings, and jewels such as the pearls pictured in Hoskins' portrait. She was Queen Consort of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1625 until 1649.
In this portrait miniature, Henrietta Maria (1609-1669) wears a white figured dress with a white lace collar; her curled hair is swept back and held in place with a white ribbon bow, revealing a large pendant earring that matches the teardrop pearl dangling from her pearl necklace.
In its presentation of Henrietta Maria's form, hair and jewellery, Hoskins' work is reminiscent of Anthony Van Dyck's 1632 double portrait of the Queen holding an olive branch in one hand and extending a laurel wreath in the other to her husband, Charles I (1600-1649). Van Dyck's portrait was commissioned to reside above the fireplace in the drawing room at Somerset House, which Charles I granted to Henrietta Maria in 1626. Hoskins was subsequently commissioned to paint a number of portrait miniature copies of the Queen's bust.
Henrietta Maria was unpopular in England: She was denied an Anglican coronation and frequently attacked as a sinister, foreign, Catholic influence on the King. In France, by contrast, she was praised for her piety, heroism and the courage with which she faced the tragedy of her husband's execution in 1649. The letters exchanged between Charles I and Henrietta Maria during the final decade of the King's life reveal a strong, assertive, and politically-minded Queen. Recently, her biographers have balanced her reputation for being reckless and frivolous with her courage and tenacity.
Jennifer Tonkin, Head of Bonhams Portrait Miniatures department, comments: "The muted colour palette and dignified countenance of Queen Henrietta Maria are exemplary of Hoskins' work during the reign of Charles I. The artist began his career painting in oil but excelled himself as a limner, securing permanent employment at the Royal court by 1640. His portrait miniatures bridge the gap between Nicholas Hilliard and the ascending star of his nephew, Samuel Cooper, whom he raised and apprenticed".
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com