Rare portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie to be shown

A portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie will go on general public display for the first time at the National Museum of Scotland from tomorrow.

From 25 April, this is a rare opportunity to see the portrait of Prince Charles Edward Stuart on public display for a short period of time.

The portrait of the young prince is by the renowned Venetian artist Rosalba Carriera. Pastel on blue paper, the half-length portrait depicts the prince wearing the Order of the Garter.

Previously held in a private collection until last year when it came up for auction, it was purchased by The Pininski Foundation who has generously lent it for short-term display at the National Museum of Scotland.

Charles was 16 years old when it was painted and it is believed to be the only portrait of him pre-dating the 1745 uprising which was not painted in Rome. Carriera painted the prince in 1737 while he was in Venice on a tour of the major cities in central and northern Italy.

That the portrait was produced in Venice rather than Rome is significant because it was not commissioned or supervised by his father, the exiled James VIII, and therefore was free from James’ undue influence upon the artist and likely to be a more accurate representation.

The portrait was sent to King James in Rome who at some point gifted it to one of his friends and supporters. It remained in a private collection unknown to the general public until it was auctioned in 2018.

Rosalba Carriera was born in Venice into a modest family and was most likely self-taught. She became internationally celebrated as a pastel portraitist, often portraying foreign visitors to Venice. In 1705 she was elected a member of the artist’s academy in Rome, the Accademia di San Luca.

In 1720-1 she was in Paris where she painted Louis XV (1710–1774) as a boy and became a member of the French Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. Her mastery of the pastel medium helped transform it into a serious and highly-admired art form.

The portrait will be displayed within the Scotland galleries of the National Museum of Scotland adjacent to the display of Bonnie Prince Charlie related material including his silver canteen of travelling cutlery and targe (shield).