Ozias Humphry

Prince Charles Edward Stuart 1720 - 1788. Eldest son of Prince James Francis Edward Stuar

About this artwork

'Drawn from nature at Florence, 1776', this pencil sketch of Prince Charles Edward at the age of fifty-five presents with touching informality the wary, embittered exile of his later life. The Jacobite defeat at Culloden lay thirty years in the past and his repeated attempts to urge the French to support a renewed effort had been ignored. Unable to accept failure, the Prince had ruined his health with heavy drinking and was unhappily married to Louisa, Princess of Stolberg, who was a pretty, intellectual girl half his age. Bored and neglected, she was fond of the company of poets and artists, and it was probably she who introduced the artist Ozias Humphry to Charles. Humphry had come to Italy with his friend George Romney, to recuperate from a serious riding accident.

Ozias Humphry

Ozias Humphry

After an apprenticeship with miniaturist Samuel Collins in Bath, Humphry set up his own practice in London in 1763, where he soon established a large circle of fashionable clients. In 1772 he sustained serious damage to his eyesight in a riding accident, after which he tried to give up miniatures and work on a larger scale instead. Despite his intentions to study the old masters during a four-year trip to Italy, he was never very successful as an oil painter and he continued to spend most of his time working as a miniaturist. In a search for more lucrative markets he spent two years in India, but returned to Britain disappointed. His sight rapidly deteriorating, Humphry took up drawing in pastels, but he had almost completely lost his vision by the end of the 1790s.