Queen Charlotte With Prince George and Prince Frederick is an 18th century, 249×162 cm oil painting on canvas, that hangs on the wall of the Baltimore Museum of Art, in their European art collection. Mrs. P.B. Key Daingerfield gave the painting to the Baltimore Museum of Art, in memory of her parents General and Mrs. Felix Agnus; also in the grand opening of the BMA (BMA The European art Collection). The Queen Charlotte With Prince George and Prince Frederick includes many elements that help to create a well-rounded composition.
The Queen Charlotte With Prince George and Prince Frederick painting was created in the studio of Scottish artist, Allan Ramsey (BMA The European art Collection). “Allan Ramsey was appointed painter, by King George III, husband of Queen Charlotte” (BMA The European art Collection). The process of the painting lasted from 1765-1767 and is enclosed by a gold elegant embellished frame. As dim lights spotlighted the painting, it displayed Queen Charlotte sitting in a pink dress, along with her two sons: Prince Frederick (right) and Prince George Augustus Frederick of Wales, later known as King George IV (left) (BMA The European art Collection). The painting was eye catching because it held a significant status of royalty, and the way it was presented with such class and importance.
Aside from the presentation of wooded flooring, and various spotlights, the picture itself held some significance. While observing the composition, it portrayed a calm mood and setting with the dull neutral colors and content expressions on the figures’ faces, as they gazed forward. The smooth, rich brushstrokes also created a tranquil composition, which allowed the viewer to seek deeper meaning into the artist’s mind. The painting displayed a great use of space and depth. For example, in the foreground there was significant detail in the clothing and fabrics, while the background appeared to have neutral, less vibrant colors and details. The folds in the clothing were greatly emphasized, and displayed high contrast. Even though the figures in the foreground were emphasized by a strong light source, the background also unified the composition.
Directional line was also portrayed in the piece, which kept the viewer’s eye wandering throughout the composition. The poles in the background, and dividers on the wall created imaginary vertical and horizontal lines across the canvas. The rich bold colors also brought attention to the composition, in addition to the tints and strong cast shadows being overlapped by the figures. The figures seemed well adapted to the environment as well. Knowing that artists often emphasize certain objects to convey a message, the careful attention given to the figures’ clothing may have portrayed the royal fashion as well. The quality of the painting, and craftsmanship allowed the artwork to be appreciated. Each detail was carefully painted and observed; making certain that each element was achieved and proportioned. Great use of contour line was also incorporated, revealing the smooth folding texture of the green curtains and clothing.
Beautiful form was portrayed, creating strong structures, as if having the ability to reach into the canvas and pulling the objects out of the painting. The artist also experimented with a variety of levels, such as the queen’s foot propped on the stool, and the baby on her lap. Filling the negative space, and positioning of the figures created balance and unity because the models were depending on each other for support. The choice of poses and lighting brought a warm feeling to the painting. For example, the children were being supported by the mother, depending on her body for comfort, and protection. As Prince George Augustus Frederick held the bow and arrow in his hand, it displayed hints of preparing for war, royal duties, and maturing in order to protect his family. Queen Charlotte’s dress wrapped around her two sons, as if symbolizing a nest protecting them from harm.
The family portrait brought a natural state to the painting, and their actions of everyday life. The models weren’t displayed as simply posing for a picture, which gave the composition deeper concept. The symbolic nature of the painting, and choice of subject, demonstrated that Queen Charlotte valued her family, as she grasped her youngest son with both hands. The repetition of colors, such as the soft pinks and warm yellows also formed balance and unity. The colors somewhat created an analogous color scheme and they worked well together. The beautiful embroidered clothing also represented high stature and wealth.
A variety of vanishing points were also incorporated in this composition, which allowed the eye to gradually move from the foreground, and fade into the darkness of the background. The workbasket and book, that sat undisturbed on the piano, portrayed isolation. The objects on the piano, and the drum in the background, also set a time period; perhaps the renaissance. During the renaissance, artists captured exact proportions and often painted significant figures of high status. They also focused on form and identified light versus dark, using a rich bold palette, and exaggerated facial features. In the painting, the figures’ eyes were somewhat exaggerated. The viewer’s eyes are immediately drawn to the eyes of the figures, allowing the viewer to feel the emotion of the subjects. Then, the attention is slowly drawn to the figures’ surrounding environment.
There were also a variety of angles incorporated into the painting, specifically in the walls. The angles created imaginary lines, which provoked a continued interest, and persuasive message in the painting. The formalistic approach produced an aesthetic, representational work of art, which is rarely used in the modern society. Therefore, it made the artwork stand out, because of the different technique, and amount of attention given to the subjects. Queen Charlotte With Prince George and Prince Frederick was also a rhetoric piece. The extravagant detail and realistic forms made the painting convincing.
The detailed contour lines, formed interesting shapes, wrapping around the bodies of the figures. Even though the figures wore loose clothing, there was still an idea of the anatomy. For example, on Queen Charlotte’s propped leg, there was a strong contour line, which displayed the form of the bended knee. A great use of line weight was also demonstrated in the painting. The use of contour lines collaborated to create a flowing rhythm. The spatial decision of placing the baby on the mother’s lap, helped when it came to unity and balance. The baby’s arm hung to the right, breaking the concentration of the figures being placed in the center of the page. As well as the tip of the mother’s dress protruding to the bottom left. The decision kept the eye moving back and forth across the composition, enabling the entire work of art to be enjoyed.
The artwork appeared to be authentic, judging by the worn, yet admirable quality of the canvas. The wood frame behind the stretched canvas, seemed to create several dents through the painting due to aging. Yet, the lines gave the painting more value, and evidence that it was very fragile. The accents worked well with the overall painting. As well as the smoothness of the brushstrokes, which brought peace and serenity to the art. The paint was not applied on thick to create rough textures, but included numerous thin layers and lines to achieve texture. The objects in the painting could not be physically touched, but the use of highlights, painting technique helped to differentiate one material from another.
The piano for example, included highlights on the legs and keys, as well as rough lines to imitate the grain texture of wood. The stool in the foreground appeared to be made out of metal, due to the smooth brushstrokes, gold color, and reflections. The boy’s light blue clothing was identified as lace because of the transparent effect and tints. Queen Charlotte’s dress was revealed to be a shiny material such as silk, because it seems to easily flow and attract the light source coming from the left of the page.
Allan Ramsey appeared to be very dedicated to the painting, and displayed so many elements to define the overall concept of the piece. The warmth, and delicate nature of the composition made Charlotte With Prince George and Prince Frederick, a wonderful piece of art to appreciate and seek the true meaning behind it. The painting was too beautiful to simply take a picture, it gave the viewer more reason to actually stop and admire every brushstroke.