Antique Ivory Bust of Mary Queen of Scots

Date: Circa 1860

Country: England

Stock Number: 8121

A fine ivory carving of Mary, Queen of Scotland (1542 – 1567), mounted on an ebonised wood plinth. Excellent quality and attention to detail. Good antique colour. Figural busts of important historical personages were a favourite subject for 19th century sculptors; collectors could amass a gallery in miniature that reflected their own historical interests. Historical women are more unusual, perhaps suggesting that this belonged to a female patron. Total height 14.5 cms. Plinth base 5.75 x 5.75 cms. English. Unsigned. Circa 1860.

Literature: Mary, Queen of Scots (8 December 1542–8 February 1587) was Queen of Scotland from 14 December 1542 to 24 July 1567 and Queen Consort of France from 10 July 1559 to 5 December 1560.
Mary, the only surviving legitimate child of King James V, was six days old when her father died and she acceded to the throne. She spent most of her childhood in France while Scotland was ruled by regents and in 1558, she married Francis, Dauphin of France. He ascended the French throne as King Francis II in 1559, and Mary briefly became queen consort of France, until his death in December 1560. Widowed, Mary returned to Scotland, arriving in Leith on 19 August 1561. Four years later, she married her first cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley but their union was unhappy. In February 1567, his residence was destroyed by an explosion, and Darnley was found murdered in the garden.
James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, was generally believed to have orchestrated Darnley's death, but he was acquitted of the charge in April 1567, and the following month he married Mary. Following an uprising against the couple, Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. On 24 July 1567, she was forced to abdicate in favour of James, her one-year-old son by Darnley. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, she fled southwards seeking the protection of her first cousin once removed Queen Elizabeth I of England. Mary had previously claimed Elizabeth's throne as her own and was considered the legitimate sovereign of England by many English catholics, including participants in a rebellion known as the Rising of the North. Perceiving her as a threat, Elizabeth had her confined in various castles and manor houses in the interior of England. After eighteen and a half years in custody, Mary was found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth, and was subsequently executed.

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