List Price £7,500
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By Royal Vienna Porcelain Manufactory (Austrian, founded 1718)
This Royal Vienna porcelain charger is a truly beautiful piece of decorative art, which features a detailed painting of the abdication of Mary, Queen of Scots.
The porcelain charger features a central painting, which depicts Mary Queen of Scots being forced to abdicate the throne in 1567, in favour of her young son, James (later King James VI and I).
Mary had ascended to the Scottish throne upon the death of her father, King James V. She was raised as a Catholic in the French court, and she married Francis II, who was briefly King of France, but died at a young age. Mary then married her cousin, Lord Darnley, to reinforce her claim to the English throne after the death of Elizabeth I. Darnley was father to Mary’s son, James. However, Lord Darnley was murdered, some believed by Mary’s lover, James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell. Mary’s marriage to Bothwell that same year angered several important figures at court, and ultimately led to her forced abdication.
This painting shows a group of figures in 16th-Century dress, including Mary, a female attendant, four male nobles and a guard. They gather around a table in a stone interior, the men looking upset and agitated. One man points, dagger in hand, to the abdication document laid out on the table for Mary to sign and shakes his fist angrily. Mary is depicted as a young, fair-haired woman in a light-coloured dress, with a crucifix around her neck. She holds a quill in one hand and a handkerchief in the other, which she uses to wipe away her tears. She is accompanied by an elderly woman, who tries to comfort her. The painting is signed ‘F. Koller’.
The picture is placed within a gilt frame with an outer red border, which is decorated with gilt foliate patterns. The body of the charger is gilt and features pink oval medallions and pale blue diamonds with red frames, ornamented with gilt foliate motifs. These are flanked by colourful scrolled acanthus leaves. The charger is edged with a band of red, decorated with gilt foliate patterns.
On the back of the charger, there is the blue-painted beehive mark of the Royal Vienna Porcelain Manufactory. The company was founded in the early 18th-Century, specialising in the production of fine porcelain wares. It was the second factory to do so in Europe, after Meissen in modern-day Germany.
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