For me, this is the saddest portrait in the exhibition. Allan Ramsay has portrayed the young King George III (1713-1754) in his coronation robes in all his divine glory. His queen, Charlotte, and children are shown in a paired portrait hanging next to it.
Little did anyone at the time know about the dreadful metabolic disease porphyria, that was said to have sent him into bouts of madness – so beautifully shown in the play The Madness of King George, though more recent evidence suggests that his symptoms may indicate that he suffered from mental illness and that there are other explanations for his discoloured urine.
This for me, is the jolliest portrait on show, Bonnie Prince Charlie (Prince Charles Edward Stuart 1720-1788). A handsome young man, in the excellent audio guide provided as part of your ticket, Alexander McCall Smith comments on the fineness of Charlie’s legs and that he would himself prefer to wear his kilt below his knees.
Bonnie he might have been but his attempt on the English and Scottish thrones with the aid of the French was doomed to failure and he spent the rest of his life in exile.
This is my favourite portrait of Prince Albert even though it’s a miniature painted by Robert Thorburn in watercolour on ivory – no longer an acceptable medium.
Here he looks thoughtful and wistful – not the stern martinet as he is often portrayed.