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Gerrit van Honthorst: 'Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia'

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Elizabeth Stuart (1596 - 1662), known as the 'Winter Queen', was the eldest daughter of James I of England. She married Frederick, the Elector of the Palatinate, in 1613. He accepted the Bohemian crown in 1619, and was expelled from Bohemia in the following year. They lived in exile in Holland from 1621 onwards. She returned to England in 1661, and stayed in the London house of the 1st Earl Craven. In the following year she moved into Leicester House in Leicester Square where she died a few weeks later on 13 February.

The picture was painted during the Queen's exile in Holland, ten years after she had been widowed, and may have been commissioned to mark this anniversary. She is shown as a grieving widow, wearing black with very few pieces of jewellery, notably the pearl earrings which had been given to her by her husband. She holds a stem in her hand on which there are two roses, one healthy and one wilted, a symbol of her widowed state along with the black ribbon on her arm. The dog can be interpreted as a symbol of fidelity.


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