This portrait of Queen Anne is one of several paintings made of the monarch by Willem Wissing, as both Anne and her husband George of Denmark were both regular patrons of the artist. Painted before she ascended the throne around 1685, Anne is shown here at 18, whilst still Princess of Denmark. She’s dressed in rich colours and fabrics denoting her royal status, with opulent surroundings, and in a somewhat seductive pose. The last of the Stuart dysnasty, Anne’s reign is tinged with sadness, dominated by war and her inability to produce an heir, but her legacy included her unification of the kingdoms of Scotland and England in 1707 to establish Great Britain.
Tate is pleased to offer custom prints of this artwork for the duration of the British Baroque: Power and Illusion exhibition at Tate Britain, 4 February – 19 April 2020.
Queen Anne, when Princess of Denmark
British Baroque: Power & Illusion
Original: Oil paint on canvas, 199.4 x 128.3 mm © National Galleries of Scotland. Photo: Antonia Reeve
Willem Wissing (1656 – 1687) was a Dutch portrait artist. After studying at The Hague, he moved to England in 1676, where he became Peter Lely’s assistant. After Lely died in 1680, Wissing became the foremost portrait painter in the English court, painting royal sitters including include Charles II of England, Catherine of Braganza, George of Denmark, James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth and Queen Anne, when Princess of Denmark. He died at the height of his popularity as a portraitist, at the home of his patron the Earl of Exeter. There is some speculation over whether he could have been poisoned by a rival; his epitaph in St Martin’s Chuch in Lincolnshire reads ‘Immodicis brevis est aetas’ - brief is the life of the outstanding.