Queen Anne, who reigned from 1702-14, was the second daughter of James, Duke of York (later James II), and Anne Hyde. The history of this miniature begins in 1704, when Colonel Daniel Parke II, of Virginia, (who served as aide-de-camp to the Duke of Marlborough) delivered to Queen Anne the news of the English victory over the French at the Battle of Blenheim. Bearers of good news traditionally received 500 guineas, but when asked what he wished as a reward for this important dispatch, Parke strategically requested the Queen’s own portrait. She awarded him not only her image in miniature encased in diamonds, but 1,000 guineas, some fine silver plate, and eventually the chief governorship of the Leeward Islands. Exceedingly unpopular in this role, Parke was dragged from his residence in Antigua in 1710, stripped of his clothing and murdered by an angry mob. The importance of the Queen Anne miniature to Parke is demonstrated by its prominent role in portraits by Godfrey Kneller, John Closterman, and Michael Dahl. The miniature created for him, like those by the court enamellist of the period Charles Boit, was likely based on a portrait of the monarch by Godfrey Kneller.
An oval, bust-length portrait in polychrome watercolors of Anne, Queen of Great Britain (1665-1714). She is shown in a three-quarters view and gazes out of the frame to the proper left, away from the turn of her head. She wears a royal blue ermine-trimmed mantle over an oxblood-colored gown with white lace trim and embroidery. Her dark brown hair is swept up and decorated by a hair ornament at the proper left; one long strand falls over her left shoulder. There are discernible brushstrokes within the hair. The variegated brown background is of a warmer tone than the subject’s hair and eyebrows. Her eyes appear enlarged or even bulbous. They are of a blue-green tone and the irises are exceedingly large. The proper left eye has more gray-green coloration than the blue of the proper right. The Queen is shown with full salmon-pink lips. Red accents highlight the edges of her neck, and proper left ear. The case is distinct in having the glass project well above the copper alloy mount (by c. 1/16” inch). The (later, and inferior quality) mount has an incised decorative pattern which is repeated on the reverse.
An accompanying note (given with the miniature), signed EPC and presumably from Elizabeth Parke Custis Law reads: “Miniature of Queen Anne given to me by my lamented + beloved mother.”
Watercolor (on vellum? Mounted on card?) copper alloy, glass
Overall (H x W x D): 2 3/16 in. × 1 5/8 in. × 3/16 in. (5.56 cm × 4.13 cm × 0.48 cm)
Other (Image H x W): 2 5/8 in. × 2 1/4 in. (6.67 cm × 5.72 cm)
Gift of Katherine Merle-Smith Thomas, 2010
Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here