© Scottish National Portrait Gallery
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery
This large, full-length picture of Mary, Queen
of Scots (1542-87) was not done from the life, but was presumably
copied, possibly from a miniature painted during the long years
of her captivity in England. Certainly, it is inscribed '1578',
but the general style and a paint analysis dates it to about 1620.
Mary is seen in black with a small white cap on
her head, her chosen attire during her imprisonment. The only jewellery
she wears is a small gold cruficix and a rosary with an enamelled
cross showing the Biblical scene, Susannah and the Elders. This
was taken to symbolise the triumph of truth over false accusation.
After the death of her first husband, Francis
II, Mary had returned to Scotland where she had married her
cousin, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley. He was assassinated at Kirk
o'Field, Edinburgh and letters said to prove that she and James,
4th Earl of Bothwell had plotted his murder were alleged to
have been found in the Lennoxlove Casket.
Within months of the crime, Mary married Bothwell, setting in motion
the disastrous events leading to her captivity.