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Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

James V of Scotland (1512-42)


Creator: British School, 16th century (artist)
Creation Date: 
Materials and techniques: 
Oil on panel
52.3 x 39.3
OM 92
Possibly first recorded in the Royal Collection during the reign of Charles I

Half-length portrait of James V of Scotland (1512-42), facing the front, his head turned half to the left, wearing the collar of the Thistle over red coat and rests his clasped hands on a cushion. In the upper background are the royal arms of Scotland (left) and a tablet inscribed 'IRS' (right).

James V wears a gown with sleeves of cloth of gold, a fabric woven with expensive gold thread. Such a material, which could be melted down to release the precious metal, was a conscious demonstration of wealth and kingship. The collar is encrusted with hundreds of pearls – a style of which the Scottish king appears to have been fond. His wardrobe inventory of 1539 describes a gown with a hood and collar ‘stitched with 49,500 pearls’. The large-scale undulating design seen on the sleeves falls into the category of motifs later classified as pomegranate. Pomegranate patterns for fashionable clothing were increasingly replacedby smaller-scale designs during the sixteenth century, although later artists such as Anthony van Dyck continued to use them as backdrops in their portraits.

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