This engraving by Francesco Bartolozzi (1727 - 1815), after a painting by Federico Zuccaro(1540/2 - 1609), is a historical portrayal of Mary Stuart, also known as Mary, Queen of Scots, with her young son. Although James was less than a year old when he saw his mother for the last time, and thirteen months old when he was crowned King of Scots in Stirling after her forced abdication.
The artwork captures Mary standing to the right, attired in a dark gown with a lace-trimmed cloak, cap, and cuffs. Her smile directed towards the viewer and a book held in her left hand suggest a moment of leisure or a pause from intellectual pursuits.
The child, positioned to her left and dressed in a brocade gown with a ruff collar and pointed cuffs, holds a rose in the left hand, symbolizing innocence and or the House of Tudor, his hat rests on the right hip. The presence of the vase with flowers on the table under the open window adds a domestic, serene atmosphere to the scene, a stark contrast to the turbulent life Mary Stuart actually led.
The etching, created in 1779 before the publisher changed to Boydell, reflects the period's interest in historical figures and events, and the continued relevance of Mary Stuart's life and legacy. It offers insight into the ways in which Mary Stuart was remembered and idealized in the centuries following her tumultuous reign and execution. The presence of her son also signifies the continuation of her lineage and the dynastic hopes that rested on her descendants.
The detailed depiction of the textures and fabrics in the etching showcases Bartolozzi's skill in translating the original painting into a detailed and expressive print.
Text below read as:
Federico Zucchero Pinxt.
S. Roma Del.
F. Bartolozzi Sculp.
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.
To the Master Wardens & Court of Assistants of the Worshipfull Company of Drapers, This Plate from a picture in their possesion. Dedicated by their most obedient humble Servant 'Spiridione Roma'.
Published as the Act directs Jan. 26, 1779, by John Boydell Engraver in Cheapside London.