James V of Scotland (1512-42) c.1540
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.
ProvenancePossibly first recorded in the Royal Collection during the reign of Charles I
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