Queen Anne, 1665-1714

(Updated, February 2018) This is one of several recorded studio versions of a portrait of Queen Anne by Michael Dahl (1656-1743), who shared much of the court portraiture of her reign (1702-14) with the older and more distinguished Godfrey Kneller. It shows her in full-length to the right, with her head turned slightly left looking towards the viewer. She is wearing coronation robes and holds a sceptre in her right hand, while her left hand rests on a table bearing her crown. The architectural background appears to include the dome of St Paul's Cathedral. NMM collection notes of about 1960 mention another early version then in the National Portrait Gallery, a second in the Verulam collection at Gorhambury, and a third formerly at Woburn Abbey. The NMM version is one of the few pictures purchased (rather than received as gifts) for the former Naval Gallery in the Painted Hall of what is now the Old Royal Naval College. With portraits of Elizabeth I, Charles I and George I, the painting hung originally in St Alfege's Church, the parish church of Greenwich built in 1712-16. This was the first of fifty new London churches projected under Queen Anne, though only six were completed. The portrait is presumed to have been painted, or at least acquired, for the church at about that time. The queen, however, was also one of the early promoters of Greenwich Hospital, which was founded by her elder sister and brother-in-law, the joint monarchs Mary II (d. 1694) and William III (d. 1702), with Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark (d. 1708), as Chairman of the founding Grand Committee. In 1824 George IV gave a full-length portrait of Prince George by Dahl to the Hospital, as part of his founding gifts to the Naval Gallery, and this portrait is still in the Admiral's House at the Old Royal Naval College, on loan from Greenwich Hospital. By 1875, however, the Hospital still had no portrait of Anne. Then, when the churchwardens of St Alfege decided to sell their pictures - by that time in store in the organ loft - the Admiralty authorised the purchase of this painting for the Naval Gallery, allocating it to the Greenwich Hospital holding. (At this time, from late 1865 to 1884, Hospital affairs were not independent but under the Admiralty Accountant General.) The price was £10 - modest even then, except that a general dealer in New Cross paid only £20-15 shillings for the other three. He also made only £2-10s more in passing them on to a Bond Street dealer, who restored them for re-sale (see E. Walford, 'Old and New London’, [1873-78], vol VI, p.192). By 1933 this portrait of Anne appears to have been hanging in the Royal Hospital School buildings at Greenwich – today those of the National Maritime Museum – since there is a note that it was found there when the Museum took custody of the site and, in 1936, of the other Greenwich Hospital paintings from the Naval Gallery. Formerly the Museum also had another, slightly different, full-length portrait of Queen Anne by Dahl (ref. BHC2514). In 1992 this painting was transferred to the National Portrait Gallery (as NPG6187), who have dated it to 1705 and where it appears to have replaced the studio version noted in about 1960, since that is not mentioned in the current National Portrait Gallery catalogue.

Object Details

ID: BHC2515
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - QH
Creator: Dahl, Michael; Studio of Michael Dahl
Date made: 1705; circa 1714
People: Queen Anne; St Alfege's Church
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection
Measurements: Painting: 2438 x 1473 mm; Frame: 2685 mm x 1700 mm x 100 mm; Overall: 42 kg

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