About this artwork

This portrait of Scottish king James VI was painted several years before his accession to the English throne and the resulting union of crowns that he desired so strongly. It is the last important image of him before he left for London. The large ‘A’ jewel on his hat refers to his wife, Anne of Denmark, whom he married in 1589. A royal marriage between James and a Danish princess was first proposed in the early 1580s, but political difficulties hindered negotiations. By 1588 the eldest princess was already engaged, and as pressure was growing for a Scottish-Danish alliance, fourteen-year old Princess Anne was offered as an alternative bride. At their first meeting, Anne was apparently – though only briefly – taken aback by James’s attempts to kiss her ‘after the Scotis faschioun’.

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Adrian Vanson

Adrian Vanson