Princes George and Frederick
17.5 x 24 inches
Three-quarter-length portrait depicting the two elder sons of George III and Queen Charlotte: George, Prince of Wales and Frederick, Prince Bishop of Osnabrug, within an engraved oval.
The royal princes were later to become King George IV and Frederick, The Duke of York but at this stage, in this tender portrait, they are shown as children aged 10 and 9 respectively. The boys are dressed in typical van Dyke dress which although anachronistic for the 1770s is a clear reference back to the earlier picture of George Villiers, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and his brother Lord Francis Villiers. Stylistic references to earlier portraits were a common technique at the time and added credence to the assumptions of hereditary power.
Robert Laurie (who also appears confusingly as Lowry, Lowery, Lowrie and Lawrie) was born in London around 1740 and worked largely for the publishing firm run by Robert Sayer, whose business he took over in 1794. He was considered to be very accomplished as a mezzotint engraver and this is one of his finest works.