About this artwork

The half-Stuart Dutch Stadholder William, Prince of Orange, married his cousin Princess Mary in 1677. The Protestant prince ousted his Catholic father-in-law James VII and II in the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688, and he and his wife reigned as the only co-ruling monarchs of Great Britain and Ireland. This imposing portrait by Godfrey Kneller shows William with an imperial crown behind him. The crown was copied from an earlier Van Dyck portrait of William’s grandfather, Charles I, and underlines the Dutchman’s right to rule in Britain. Although he is wearing a fashionable wig, he is depicted as a Roman emperor. His lion-head belt refers to his hero Hercules, as well as to the lions in Stuart and Dutch heraldry.