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Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., “Adriaen Hanneman/Henry, Duke of Gloucester/c. 1653,” Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century, NGA Online Editions, (accessed May 27, 2024).

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Apr 24, 2014 Version
Jan 01, 1995 Version

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In this three-quarter-length portrait, Henry, Duke of Gloucester, confidently counters the viewer’s scrutiny. He wears a gleaming breastplate that covers a richly brocaded gold doublet with split sleeves; his right hand rests on a staff while his left hand covers the hilt of a gold-topped rapier. Identified on the basis of an inscription on a bust-length copy after this painting, Henry (1640–1660) was the third son of King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria. After virtual imprisonment during England’s civil war and Protectorate, Henry was permitted to join his older sister Maria Stuart and her husband, Willem II, Prince of Orange, in The Hague in 1652. The next year, Henry was invested as a Knight in the Order of the Garter, and that festive occasion likely led to the commission of this portrait by Adriaen Hanneman. The commanding pose of young Henry was probably chosen to stress the legitimacy and continuity of the Stuart dynasty despite the fact that Charles II, Henry’s brother, was in exile in Paris. At the Restoration in 1660, Henry accompanied Charles II back to England; he contracted smallpox soon thereafter and died that same year.

Hanneman worked at the English court between 1626 and 1638, and his portrait style echoed that of the celebrated court-artist Anthony van Dyck. Upon his return to The Hague, Hanneman became the favorite of the Dutch and exiled English aristocracy in the court circles around Maria Stuart and the Prince of Orange.


The splendidly dressed youth in this three-quarter-length portrait looks out assuredly at the viewer. With a commanding gesture, he rests his right hand on a baton before him while he turns to his left and places his near hand over the hilt of a gold-topped rapier. His buff-colored doublet, richly brocaded with gold and silver threads, has split sleeves that reveal a white blouse with large, pleated cuffs. His breastplate is crossed by a blue ribbon that lies under his flat, white collar and tassel. The broadly painted brown rock cliff behind him and the distant landscape vista to the left provide a neutral background for this elegant figure.

The identities both of the sitter and of the artist who painted him have been the subject of much speculation in the literature.[1] Descamps, the first to mention the painting while it was in the possession of Count Heinrich von Brühl (1700–1763) in Dresden, identified the work as a portrait of Willem II by Adriaen Hanneman.[2] Smith cataloged it in 1831 as a portrait by Sir Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, 1599 - 1641), and most, although not all, subsequent writers followed suit.[3] Just prior to the sale of the painting from the Hermitage in 1930 the attribution issues were so intense that, as Walker recounts, large amounts of money were paid to ensure that scholarly authorities upheld the Van Dyck attribution.[4] Neither the attribution to Van Dyck nor the identification of the sitter as Willem II, Prince of Orange, however, can be supported. As Toynbee has pointed out, other depictions of Willem II are quite different from the youth represented in this portrait.[5] Moreover, while this youth wears the blue sash of the Order of the Garter, Willem II was only made a Knight of the Garter on March 2, 1644, at the age of nineteen.[6]  Since the sitter in this painting seems to be about twelve or thirteen years of age, he cannot represent this prince. An alternative suggestion that he represents Prince Willem III of Orange (1650–1702) is also unlikely. Judging from the sitter’s hairstyle and costume, this portrait was painted in the early 1650s. Although Willem III received the garter in April 1653, he was only two years old at that time.[7]

Toynbee was the first writer to properly identify the sitter as Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1640–1660), on the basis of an inscription on a bust-length copy after this painting in the collection of the Earl Fitzwilliam at Wentworth Woodhouse (see the 1995 catalog entry PDF for this comparative image).[8] Staring suggested that Henry, Duke of Gloucester was painted at the time of Henry’s investiture as Knight in the Order of the Garter, which took place in The Hague on May 4, 1653. Henry had been appointed to the Order by a decree of his brother Charles, the exiled Prince of Wales, on April 25, 1653. At the time, Henry, the third son of Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria, was twelve years old. He had been a virtual prisoner of the English Parliament from the age of eighteen months until he was given permission to sail to the Netherlands at the end of 1652. The artist called upon to represent this distinguished member of the exiled Stuart family was the most important portrait painter in The Hague at that time—Adriaen Hanneman, a personal favorite of Henry’s sister, Maria Henriette Stuart, Princess of Orange.[9]

The attribution disputes that have occurred over this painting are understandable. Not only is the quality extremely high but the elegance of the pose and setting are typical of Van Dyck’s English period. Hanneman, who studied with Van Dyck in England and followed his style after returning to the Netherlands, became the most fashionable portraitist of the English and Dutch aristocracy in The Hague around mid-century. Close stylistic comparisons may be made with other of Hanneman’s portraits from this period. The portrait of Johan de Witt, 1652 (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam),[10] is painted with the same smooth brushwork in the face and attention to detail in the fabrics. Both portraits also exhibit a curious idiosyncrasy of Hanneman’s style: a slight halo effect around the head that comes from applying the darker background tones over the light brown-gray ground only after painting the head from life.

The elegant manner in which Hanneman portrayed Henry, Duke of Gloucester, is more Van Dyckian than is usual for this artist. The pose and bearing specifically refer back to Van Dyck’s last known portrait of the future Charles II, painted in 1641 (private collection).[11] A variant of this painting, with Charles dressed in civilian clothes, was etched by Wenceslaus Hollar in 1649 for Van Dyck’s Iconographie.[12] This three-quarter-length image of Charles may have been known to Hanneman when he painted a portrait of Charles II in 1649, and it certainly formed the prototype for the Washington painting.[13] In all probability the iconographic continuity for the pose chosen for Henry, Duke of Gloucester was a political as well as a pictorial decision. The Stuart court was at this time in exile and trying desperately to maintain its integrity in the hope of an eventual restoration of the monarchy. In 1653 the future Charles II was living in Paris, but a large contingent of the Stuart court was in The Hague being cared for by Henry’s aunt Elizabeth, the exiled Queen of Bohemia, who was the sister of both Charles I of England and Maria Henriette Stuart, Princess of Orange. The family probably desired a style and pose consistent with Van Dyck’s official portraits of Henry’s older brother, Charles II, to stress the continuity of the Stuart dynasty.

Henry’s stay in The Hague after his investiture in April 1653 was comparatively short, for his mother, Queen Henrietta Maria, requested that he join her in Paris. At the Restoration he accompanied Charles II back to England, where they landed on May 27, 1660. Unfortunately, he contracted smallpox shortly thereafter and died in London on September 13, 1660.

Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.

April 24, 2014


Count Heinrich von Brühl [1700-1763], Dresden; his heirs, until 1769; Catherine II, empress of Russia [1729-1796], Saint Petersburg; Imperial Hermitage Gallery, Saint Petersburg; purchased November 1930, as a painting by Sir Anthony van Dyck, through (Matthiesen Gallery, Berlin; P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London; and M. Knoedler & Co., New York) by Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 30 March 1932 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA.

Exhibition History

Dutch and Flemish Treasures from the National Gallery of Art, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, 2003, no catalogue.
Dutch Portraits: The Age of Rembrandt and Frans Hals, The National Gallery, London; Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague, 2007-2008, no. 28, repro.

Technical Summary

The original support, a medium-weight, plain-weave fabric, was lined with the tacking margin cropped, but the original dimensions retained. Paint has been applied fluidly over a smooth, moderately thick white ground layer. Dark sketchy glazes were employed to create shadows and broad outlines of forms, and small lumps of impasto were applied to the brocade and highlights. A gap between the background paint and the hair reveals a lighter underpaint layer and creates a halo effect around the head.

X-radiographs reveal minor adjustments by the artist to the folds of the white cuffs. Moderate abrasion and flake losses are found overall, and glazes have been thinned around the collar and hands. Losses exist along all edges, but they are more extensive on the top and bottom. The painting was lined in 1931, and treated again in 1996 to remove discolored varnish and inpainting. During the 1996 treatment, extensive pinpoint inpainting was applied in the sky as well as in the figure’s tunic and hair.


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