Divinity or dynasty: forging an image for the Stuart monarchy in masque and portrait

This paper will explore the image of the Stuart monarchy up to 1642 as presented in the masques and selected portraits. It will trace the Apollonian attributes accorded to James I, the self-glorification initiated by Anne and Henry, and the reluctance of Charles to assume the mantle of divinity. The use of apotheosis in the masque will be considered in relation to the portrayal of James in apotheosis in the Rubens’ ceiling paintings of the Banqueting House.

The analysis will be placed in the context of the decorum of the court, which limited the nature of the monarch’s presentation in masques, relegating the representation of Apollo and other deities to singers. It will also consider the personality of Henry, whose ambition as a dancer and prince may have led to the assumption of a divine role, such as Apollo, a generation before Louis XIV. The modesty of Charles’ presentation contrasts with this, in choosing to emphasise his mortal role as husband and father, and demonstrating more restraint than vainglory in his image as a king supported by Divine Right.

Anne Daye
Symposium Title: 
Roi Soleil and Soleil Dieu – 2003
Author affiliation: 
Middlesex University