Thursday, March 12, 2009

Somer, Anne of Denmark, 1617

Here is an interesting reference. In the 1864 edition, there is reference to Anne of Denmark's dogs as "miniature greyhounds, a size larger than the Italian greyhound." p. 345. In the 1851 edition, they are referred to as "dwarf greyhounds." p. 159. Needless to say, they do have the appearance and size characteristics of whippets.

Somer, Anne of Denmark, 1617

The queen's little dogs wear ornamented collars, round which are embossed, in gold, the letters "A. R.;" they are miniature greyhounds, a size larger than Italian greyhounds. These little creatures, we think, were at that time used for hunting hares. The queen holds a crimson cord in her hand, to which two of these dogs are linked; it is long enough to allow them to run in the leash, by her side, when on horseback. A very small greyhound is begging, by putting its paws against her green cut-velvet farthingale, as if jealous of her attention. The whole composition of this historical portrait recalls, in strong caricature, the elegant lines of Dryden :

"The graceful guddess was arrayed in green;
About her feet were little beagles seen,
Who watched, with upward eyes, the movements of their queen."

The building seen in the picture behind the queen's left shoulder, represents the lower court of Hampton Court Palace, before the trees had grown up by the wall bounding the green, or the gate was altered by Charles II. It has been said the scene was Theobalds, (the queen's favourite hunting-palace, now defunct;) but many of the features still coincide with the court of Hampton Palace, nearest the river. The queen appears to have stood on the pretty triangular plain, fronting the royal stables, which now appertain to the Toy Hotel. This plain, in the eras of the Tudors and Stuarts, (and perhaps of the Plantagenets,) was the tilting place, and indeed the grand play-ground of the adjoining palace. Here used to be set up movable fences, made of net-work, called toils, or tois, used in those games in which barriers were needed, from whence the name of the stately hostel on the green is derived.

The queen was standing on this green, ready to mount, when Van Somers drew this picture. Her negro, or black-a-moor groom, had just led from under the noble arch of the royal stables, (which may be supposed opposite to the queen,) her tame fat hunter, accoutred with the high pommelled crimson velvet side-saddle, and rich red housings fringed with gold. Surely when mounted on such a hunter, and in such a hunting garb, her majesty of Great Britain was a sight to be seen. Her painter, Van Somers, has added this notation at the left corner of the picture, on which he has, with Dutch quaintness, imitated a scrap of white paper, stuck on with two red wafers—" Anna R. Dei Gratia Magna Brit., France, Hibernia. AEtatis 43." (pp. 345-346)

Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest: With Anecdotes of Their Courts, Now First Published from Official Records and Other Authentic Documents, Private as Well as Public, volume VI
By Agnes Strickland, Elizabeth Strickland
Published by Taggard & Thompson, 29 Cornhill, Boston, 1864

Lives of the queens of England, from the Norman conquest. By A. [and E.] Strickland, Volume 5 of 8
By Agnes Strickland, Elizabeth Strickland
London, 1851 (publisher and address are otherwise unreadable)

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