Isaac and Ede Antique Prints
Spilsbury: George III and Queen Charlotte


His Most Sacred Majesty George III, King of Great Britain &c

Her Most Excellent Majesty CHARLOTTE Queen of Great Britain &c

A pair of mezzotint portraits by Jonathan Spilsbury published in Covent Garden, London in March 1764.

These portraits were commissioned early in the reign of George and Charlotte and depict the young couple soon after their wedding in 1761. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelittz was chosen from a long list of potential German princesses but despite this the marriage was considered a huge success.  Many contemporaries thought her to be irredeemably dull and somewhat plain but she proved herself to be devoted to the king and cared for him through long periods of illness and insanity.  She gave birth to 15 children before predeceasing her husband in 1818.

Jonathan Spilsbury was a portrait painter and mezzotint engraver of the mid to late eighteenth century.  In an age before photography this pair of engravings would have been of crucial importance in disseminating images of the king and queen throughout the realm. 

The technique of mezzotint engraving originated in Germany but was to flourish in London during the eighteenth century.  Of all the methods of engraving it is the one that most accurately replicates the subtleties of tone found in oil painting and is consequently most commonly used for portraiture. Mezzotints required a great deal of skill to produce and were therefore expensive to purchase; they remain highly sought after today.

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