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Henrietta Maria, Queen of Great Britain (1609-69)

Henrietta Maria, youngest daughter of the French King Henri IV and Marie de' Medici, was Queen Consort to Charles I, and mother of both Charles II and James II. Henrietta Maria shared her husband's love of the arts, and was a keen patron of artists, sculptors and architects.

Henrietta Maria was descended from the Medici family on her mother's side. The Medici were some of the greatest and most powerful patrons of the arts across Europe, from the fifteenth century onwards. Henrietta Maria would have grown up surrounded by the presence of artists and works of art in the service of monarchy and magnificence. Henrietta Maria married Charles I in 1625. The sculptor Hubert le Sueur came to London as part of Henrietta Maria's entourage, and it was Henrietta Maria who was responsible for the arrival in England of the painter Orazio Gentileschi, and his daughter, Artemisia.

Orazio Gentileschi was commissioned to work on the Queen's House, Greenwich, the neo-classical building completed by Henrietta Maria. In particular, the spectacular ceiling panels (the Allegory of Peace and the Arts, now at Marlborough House, were the artist's greatest achievement whilst in London.

From Le Sueur, Henrietta Maria and Charles commissioned the Diana fountain, currently in Bushy Park, whilst Boy with a thorn in his foot, Spinario was ordered by Charles for Henrietta Maria's garden at Somerset House.

Some luxurious furniture in the Royal Collection was supplied to furnish Henrietta Maria's residence in England in her later years (such as this piece) although she never really settled in England again for long and left definitively for France in 1665.

Another group of works in the collection consists of those that were with Henrietta Maria in her final years in Paris and then outside it, at the Chateau de Colombes. These include those of her family - the portrait of her father, Henry IV, and her son-in-law William III, Prince of Orange. It is also likely that Noli me Tangere by Holbein is the version recorded as being among her possessions on her death in 1669, although it is only definitely first recorded in the Royal Collection during the reign of her son, Charles II, in 1680.