Painting, Portrait of Queen Anne (1665-1714)

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  • Artist: Unidentified, Afterwork: Sir Godfrey Kneller
  • England
  • 1702-1714
  • Oil on Canvas
  • 1935-298

On 23 February 1702/1703, the crown was asked to provide Virginia with a portrait of Queen Anne "as hath been usual to all her Maj. Colonies." The request was fulfilled, and records reveal that the painting had reached Virginia by 21 April 1704, with an official address of thanks being sent to the Queen shortly thereafter. As for the artist, various payments made in April and July of 1703 indicate that the portrait came from the hand (or, more likely, the studio) of Sir Godfrey Kneller, who had occupied the royally-appointed office of Principal Painter in Ordinary since 1689, first jointly with John Riley (1646-1691), then, after Riley's death, alone until the time of his own death in 1723.

After Ebenezer Hazard visited Virginia's Capitol building in Williamsburg, he noted in his journal for 2 June 1777 that he had seen there, in the Courts of Justice, "a fine whole Length Picture of Queen Anne by Van Dyck." Indubitably he misidentified the artist, Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641) having died long before Queen Anne was born. Nevertheless, Hazard's observation is useful in verifying that the colony's portrait of Queen Anne remained on display in the Capitol as late as the time of Hazard's visit.

Colonial Williamsburg's portrait is NOT the particular painting known to have been in Virginia in the eighteenth century, nor is it stylistically consistent with the work of Kneller's studio. Compositionally, however, it clearly derived from one of Kneller's two official portrayals of Queen Anne, and it remains a reasonable representation of Queen Anne's visual "presence" in early Williamsburg.

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