Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707-51)
Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707-51) was the eldest son of George II (r. 1727-60). He formed an outstanding art collection which included paintings by Rubens and van Dyck, miniatures, drawings, silver and furniture.
Amigoni was a Neapolitan painter who had worked in Venice and Bavaria before spending a decade (1730-9) in London. This portrait was painted for the Prince's friend, George Bubb Dodington (1691-1762); the artist was paid forty guineas for it in 1736. As is appropriate for a friend's portrait this one shows the Prince in an informal and affable guise, as patron of the arts. An admirer of the poet Alexander Pope, the Prince is shown holding a book inscribed Pope’s Homer, alluding to Pope’s famous recently-published translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Cherubs fly above the Prince holding a lyre (the attribute of Poetry) and a snake biting its tail (the attribute of Eternity, the duration of a true poet's fame).
Though his suit is elegant, fashionable and somewhat un-buttoned, the Prince has some more formal attributes: a crown on the table, a riband of the Garter and (rather incongruously) a breast-plate. We are perhaps to remember that this is not just any patron of the arts but a heroic and a royal one.