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Mary of Modena (1658-1718) leaving Calais, 21 November 1673

Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art
Gallery locationQH (Floor plans)
PeopleDepiction: Queen Mary of Modena, Consort of James II

Object details:

Object ID BHC0319
Description A painting commemorating the departure of Mary Modena from Calais. She was beginning her new life in England as queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland as the consort of James II. Born Maria Beatrice Anna Margherita Isabella d'Este she was the first of two surviving children of Alfonso IV d'Este, duke of Modena and Reggio. In March 1671 her future was transformed following the death of James Duke of York's first duchess, Anne Hyde. York's decision to remarry was of supreme dynastic significance as the likelihood that Charles II's wife, Catherine of Braganza, would never bear any children made it ever more probable that any surviving son born to York's future wife would eventually inherit the British throne. As a newly converted Catholic, York’s selection of a Catholic bride, Mary, was inevitably controversial. The wedding of James and Mary took place in September 1673 in the Palazzo Ducale with a member of the court standing in as proxy for York. A few days later the new duchess set out for England on her fifteenth birthday, accompanied by her mother and Prince Rinaldo. This marriage reinforced Charles II's alliance with Louis XIV, which enforced its unpopularity in England. The painting shows Mary in a small boat on the right sailing out to the royal yacht. She is thought to be the figure dressed in white looking in the direction of the yacht, where a number of figures can be seen looking over the side towards her. The yacht is firing a salute of welcome. The town of Calais is visible in the distance. After leaving Calais an escort of English yachts brought her to Dover where she was met by the Duke of York, landing there on 21 November and she greeted on the beach by her new husband. That evening, in the presence of the bride and groom, Bishop Crewe of Oxford formally acknowledged the validity of the ceremony which had taken place in Modena.
Date made Mid to late 17th century

Artist/Maker Knyff, Jacob
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials Oil on canvas
Measurements Frame: 1225 mm x 1933 mm x 130 mm;Overall: 56.8 kg;Painting: 1093 mm x 1830 mm
  • Mary of Modena (1658-1718) leaving Calais, 21 November 1673 (BHC0319)
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