Follower of Willem Wissing; A Late 17thC Portrait of Queen Mary II (1662-1694)

Origin: English
Period: Stuart
Provenance: By descent; the Hovell and Ffolkes families
Date: c.1680
Height: 24”
Width: 20.5”

The beautifully timeworn portrait shown in a feigned oval, painted in oils on canvas, depicting Princess Mary Stuart of York, the future Mary II (1662-94), wearing a crimson ermine mantle and a blue silk dress with an elaborate jewelled brooch at the breast, and wearing a pearl necklace and drop earring, looking directly out to the viewer, the work unframed and surviving from the last quarter of seventeenth century England.

When the picture came to us it was unstretched so we have had it put on a new stretcher and we have administered a light varnish but other than this we have left well alone. Thus there are some surface damages to note. Please refer to the photographs for a full visual reference.

Mary II, (born April 30, 1662, London, England—died December 28, 1694, London), queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1689–94) and wife of King William III. As the daughter of King James II, she made it possible for her Dutch husband to become coruler of England after he overthrew James’s government.

Her father became King James II but by 1688 had become increasingly unpopular as king, and William and Mary were invited by parliamentary opposition to come to England and take the crown. Mary insisted that she would only do so if she reigned jointly with her husband. William’s army landed in November 1688 and James fled to exile in France. They were crowned King William III and Queen Mary II in April 1689, although Mary had misgivings about the plight of her father.

William and Mary built a new palace at Hampton Court adjacent to Henry VIII’s Tudor palace. William spent much of his time absent soldiering, first in Ireland, where he defeated James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, and later against the French in Flanders. While he was away Mary acted in her own name but had limited influence in politics following the 1689 Bill of Rights which restricted the political role of the monarch. She did however, briefly imprison her own uncle Henry Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, and John Churchill, Earl of Marlborough (6th great grandfather of Winston Churchill) on charges of plotting to restore James II. This brought her into conflict with her sister Anne who was a friend of the Churchills.

Mary enjoyed great popularity but continued to be deeply troubled by her estrangement from her deposed father. Mary died of smallpox in 1694. She had several stillborn children and died childless. Her husband William continued to rule alone and was succeeded in 1702 by Mary’s sister, Anne.

Wissing was a Dutch artist who came to London in 1676, studied with Sir Peter Lely and effectively took over the business for the seven years between Lely’s death in 1680 and his own in 1687 (aged only thirty one). This portrait is very similar to the one that hangs in the Great Hall of the Christopher Wren Building. She is seen with the same pearls adorning her neck and ears.
A salient portrait of the popular Queen with a nice provenance and with a wonderful authentic country house aesthetic.