after E. Gill, Portrait of Charles Edward Stuart (1720–1788)

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
Portrait of Charles Edward Stuart (1720–1788)
? c.1745–6
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 62 cm, Overall width: 44.5 cm
after E. Gill (fl. 1727–49)
Catalogue Number


The portrait is one of several paintings gifted by Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal York, to Sir John Coxe Hippisley. It is a copy of a painting made to commemorate the landing of Charles Edward Stuart, ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, on the Scottish mainland, raising his standard at Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel, on 19 August 1745. Here, he is depicted in a tartan costume and a blue bonnet decorated with a white cockade and feather, possibly the costume worn by the prince on his entry to Edinburgh in September. On the rock, on which he rests his baton, is presumably a copy of the manifesto issued on 16 May 1745, declaring the commission of regency granted to him by his father, titular King of England and Scotland, stating that had now ‘come to execute His Majesty’s will and pleasure, by setting up his Royal Standard, and asserting his undoubted right to the Throne of his ancestors’.1 In the painting the prince is accompanied by his associates, probably intended to represent the ‘Seven Men of Moidart’, who formed his retinue at that time. Anchored on the loch is the Du Teilly, the French privateer which had ferried the prince and his associates to Scotland. 

This composition is one of a series of contemporary paintings of the prince dressed in tartan, designed to demonstrate his allegiance to the Scottish clans who formed the core of his support.2 The original painting, on which the present composition is based, is signed ‘E Gill’.3 Little is known of Gill other than that he may have been an English artist, working in Rome. In 1727 Gill was commissioned to make sixteen copies for Jacobite supporters of portraits of Prince James Francis Edward Stuart [then ‘Stewart’] and his wife, Maria Clementina Sobieska, after Martin van Meytens, painted to celebrate the birth of their second son, Henry Benedict, in 1725. The commission was cancelled due to the poor quality of the copies, although he had by then completed twelve.4 There are versions in the National Galleries of Scotland (PG 1836 and 1837). What later became of Gill is unknown although he may have been the same artist named Gill who, according to the engraver George Vertue, was drowned in the Serpentine, London, in 1749.5

by Martin Postle


  1. Andrew Henderson, The Edinburgh History of the Late Rebellion, MDCCXLV and MDCCXLVI. With the Manifestoes of the Pretender and his Son, 4th edn, London, 1752, p. 19.

  2. See Robin Nicholson, ‘The Tartan Portraits of Prince Charles Edward Stuart: Identity and Iconography’, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol. 21, 1998, pp. 145–60; Robin Nicholson, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Making of a Myth: A Study in Portraiture, 1720–1892, London: Associated University Presses, 2002, pp. 75–6.

  3. The portrait, now in a private collection, was sold at Christie’s, ‘The Jacobites and their Adversaries’, Glasgow, 6 December 1996 (188). It is slightly larger than the present composition, measuring 60.9 x 50.8 cm.

  4. See National Galleries of Scotland, (accessed 26 June 2020).

  5. George Vertue, ‘Vertue – III. Notebooks’, The Walpole Society, vol. 22, 1933–4, p. 151.


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