Princess Elizabeth (Elizabeth of Bohemia, 'The Winter Queen'), 1596–1662, aged seven

This masterpiece of early English portraiture was painted only months after the death of Elizabeth I in March 1603, when Elizabeth’s father, James (BHC2796), succeeded to the English throne. Following the death of Elizabeth I (Princess Elizabeth’s sole godmother), James immediately set off for London. His queen, Anne of Denmark (BHC4251), with her two elder children, Princes Elizabeth and Prince Henry (BHC4181), did not leave until June, arriving in London in time for the coronation in July. In October of that year Elizabeth was placed under the guardianship of Lord Harington at Combe Abbey, Warwickshire. It seems probable that this portrait and its companion, the portrait of Elizabeth’s brother, Henry Prince of Wales with John Harington beside a dead stag (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) were both commissioned by Harington, and are set in the grounds of his house, Combe Abbey in Warwickshire. Together the pair convey something of the novelty of a ‘new’ royal family’s arrival in England.

Elizabeth’s age, 7, is inscribed on the fan which she holds in her left hand, while the date, 1603, is inscribed on the bridge in the right background. Beyond this is a hunting scene, presumably representing Prince Henry and his friend John Harington, which links the portraits of Elizabeth and Henry. As Elizabeth’s birthday was in August it seems very likely that the portrait was painted almost very soon after her arrival in England. Ten years later in 1613, Elizabeth married Frederick, Elector Palatine (see BHC2696, and for their journey to Heidelberg BHC0266 and BHC4176).

Object Details

ID: BHC4237
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - QH
Creator: Peake, Robert
Date made: 1603
People: Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Acquired with the assistance of The Art Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
Measurements: Painting: 1359 mm x 952 mm; Frame: 1535 mm x 1132 mm x 90 mm; Overall weight: 34.8 kg;

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