King James I

Image["P.2176-R"]
Because he sometimes uses 'Londini' after his name it is thought that Francis Delaram, the engraver of this portrait of King James I, was not born in this country, but his origins are a mystery. The other name on the margin is Compton Holland, who published this print (the 'Excudit' after his name means 'published or printed by'. It is often found shortened to 'exc'). Holland set up his business in 1616 as a rival to the establishment of the first specialist print publishers, John Sudbury and George Humble. Soon after setting up, Holland published three grand equestrian portraits, two of which were engraved by Delaram. As the other is dated 1616 it is likely this print was engraved at the same time. In the early 1600s the vogue for portrait prints was large (quarto size), with the sitter depicted full length or on horseback. After 1616, however, the preferred format changed to a smaller half-length portrait in an oval frame (octavo size). This impression is a late state of the plate, with the addition of a plumed hat to James' head, and a scrolled border around the coat-of-arms on the left. Behind the king is a depiction of Southwark, showing landmarks of London Bridge, the Globe Theatre and Hampstead Heath.

James succeeded to the throne after the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. In 1567, at the age of one, he had been named King James VI of Scotland after the death of his mother Mary. Elizabeth I died childless, bringing an end to the Tudor dynasty. James' succession brought the new family name of 'Stuart' to the throne. In 1589 he had married Anne of Denmark, daughter of Frederick II, and by 1600 she had given birth to three children; Henry (who was to die in 1612 aged 18), Elizabeth (later Queen of Bohemia) and Charles (who would be crowned Charles I). James' reign is marked by The Gunpowder Plot (1605) and the commissioning of a new English language Bible (first published in 1611) known as the King James Bible, or the Authorized Version.

Museum Number P.2176-R


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