William Essex (British, 1784-1869) George IV (1762-1830), King of Great Britain (1820-1830), wearing

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Lot 29
William Essex
(British, 1784-1869)
George IV (1762-1830), King of Great Britain (1820-1830), wearing brass-studded breastplate with high collar, the Order of the Golden Fleece on a red ribbon around his neck, a sable-lined red velvet cape over his left shoulder, with the star and ribbon of the Order of the Garter and the stars of the Orders of the Bath, Thistle and St. Patrick

Sold for £ 6,600 (US$ 8,191) inc. premium
William Essex (British, 1784-1869)
George IV (1762-1830), King of Great Britain (1820-1830), wearing brass-studded breastplate with high collar, the Order of the Golden Fleece on a red ribbon around his neck, a sable-lined red velvet cape over his left shoulder, with the star and ribbon of the Order of the Garter and the stars of the Orders of the Bath, Thistle and St. Patrick.
Enamel, signed, inscribed and dated on the counter-enamel H.R.H. the /Prince Regent/ Painted from an Enamel/ by H. Bone Esqr R.A./ W. Essex. 1826, ormolu frame of scroll and foliate design surmounted by an eagle.
Rectangular, 80mm (3 1/8in) high

Footnotes

  • The prototype for the present lot is a portrait by Henry Bone enamelled in 1816 and derived from Sir Thomas Lawrence's drawing in profile, which was intended for use as a medal. This drawing was included in Lawrence's sale in 1831 but has since disappeared. Bone's prototype, listed in his accounts for 29 November 1816 as 'Prince Regent, corners off (3 x 2 1/4) all Orders - Ribbon - in Armour 45 guineas" is slightly smaller than the present lot.

    Prince George Augustus Frederick was born two years into the reign of his father, George III. A precocious child, he showed a predilection for luxury and extravagance. His parents, who favoured a simple style of living, heartily disapproved and, in line with Hanoverian tradition, their relationship with their heir deteriorated sharply over time. Upon turning 21, George was granted £60,000 by Parliament and established himself at Carlton House, which remained his base in London for several decades.

    Handsome, accomplished and charming, George surrounded himself with a glittering circle. As the acknowledged leader of Society, he was called 'the first gentleman in Europe' and spent lavishly on clothes, gambling and parties. His profligacy meant that he was soon heavily in debt. His Whiggish sympathies alienated him still further from his father and he only compounded the offence by marrying a Catholic widow, Maria Fitzherbert, in 1785. As English law prohibited the union of the heir to the throne with a Catholic, the morganatic wedding took place in great secrecy, although news of it eventually leaked out, infuriating the king and queen.

    In 1788, George III began to display the first symptoms of the mental illness and the issue of a regency was raised in Parliament. The Prince of Wales showed himself to be eager for power - but the king unexpectedly recovered and the matter was temporarily laid-to-rest. Meanwhile, in an attempt to clear his colossal debts, the prince reluctantly agreed, to marry his cousin, Princess Caroline of Brunswick.

    At the end of 1810, the king became insane once more and the Prince of Wales was appointed Regent. Throughout this period, the Napoleonic Wars raged and there was much tension between the Whigs and Tories in Parliament. However, George in no way modified his lavish lifestyle and he continued to spend far in excess of his allowance. Hugely unpopular with his people, he nevertheless amassed a magnificent collection of art and furniture and patronised several of the leading architects of the day.

    One of George IV's first acts as king upon his accession in 1820 was an attempt to annul his marriage to Caroline. To the fury and derision of the people, he attempted to place her on trial in the House of Lords for adultery. When this tactic failed, he forbade her access to his coronation in Westminster Abbey and she died just days later. For the majority of his reign, the now obese and ailing king remained in seclusion at Windsor, although he did venture forth to Ireland and Scotland - the first English monarch to do so for several centuries. He also proved to be remarkably obdurate and initially refused to give his consent to the highly controversial Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. Upon his death in 1830 The Times commented that 'there never was an individual less regretted by his fellow-creatures than this deceased king'.
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