Henry, Prince of Wales with Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex in the Hunting Field
XQG 1963 Child 3
Henry, Prince of Wales was the eldest son of James I and Anne of Denmark. Born in 1594, he died of typhoid fever in 1612 at the age of eighteen leaving his younger brother Charles to succeed in 1625. During his short life Henry proved himself a popular prince, displaying prowess as a scholar and sportsman.
The young prince is shown here as a man of action. He sheaths his sword after cutting a slit in the belly of the dead deer to reveal the thickness and texture of the flesh, in accordance with English hunting etiquette. Henry is attended by Robert Devereux, third Earl of Essex, the son of Elizabeth I’s disgraced favourite. His coat of arms and those of Prince Henry hang from branches above their heads, and an enclosed deer-park appears in the background.
Peake was employed as Prince Henry’s official painter from 1603 and was given the responsibility of painting official images of the prince. Henry’s achievements as a collector and patron of the arts were so extensive that there was a late flowering of Renaissance and Mannerist culture in England. Much of his collection was absorbed into that of Charles I’s and was later dispersed during the Commonwealth. Sadly only fragments of his collection can be identified today.