Portrait of Charles Edward Stuart
Francesco Trevisani (1656-1746)
18th century, Oil on canvas
A Catholic who grew up in papal Rome thanks to the hospitality offered by Clement XI to his parents, James III Stuart and Maria Carolina Sobieski, Charles Edward led the failed insurrection of those who claimed the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland for the Stuarts in 1745-6, the last attempt to return the kingdom of England and Scotland to the Stuarts, who had been ousted by the Hanover family. Raised between Rome and Bologna, he became heir to the throne on the death of his father and from 1766 onwards led his life between Italy and France, behaving as if he were king. He had a colourful life, and the painting depicting him as a teenager seems to presage it: the artist portrays him as an aspiring king, emphasised by the presence of the ermine mantle and the placing of his hand on the crown in the foreground; with his swaggering gaze and his haughty attitude, he is a young man who also relied on his good looks to make his way in the world and in the hearts of women. This brilliant and ingenious portrait is by Francesco Trevisani, an excellent representative of the Roman school between the 17th and 18th century, who was able to combine the solidity of late Baroque painting with the sensitivity of Rococo art.