About this artwork

The reign of James VII and II lasted less than four years.  His elder brother Charles II had successfully deflected the English parliament’s attempts to exclude James, a Roman Catholic convert, from the throne.  James quashed the two rebellions which followed his accession in 1685 (the Earl of Argyll’s in Scotland and the Duke of Monmouth’s in England), but his use of the royal prerogative to increase the influence of Catholics in public life aroused deep disquiet amongst his subjects –  predominantly Protestant in both Scotland and England.  Similarly alarming were his attempts to establish a standing army loyal to the crown.

Made of terracotta glazed to resemble bronze, this imposing bust suggests something of James’s character. A natural autocrat, he sincerely believed (like many others) in the divine right of kings to rule, answerable to God alone.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    James VII and II, 1633 - 1701. Reigned 1685 - 1688
  • date created:
  • materials:
  • measurements:
    99.10 cm (height)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Bequeathed by Mrs Dora Constantino 1965
  • accession number:
    PG 2052
  • gallery:
  • depicted:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
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