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Mary II, Queen of Great Britain (1662-94)

Mary II was the the eldest daughter of James II and his first wife, Anne Hyde. In 1677 she married her first cousin, William, Prince of Orange. Following the Glorious Revolution and her father’s flight to the continent, in 1689 she was crowned Joint Sovereign of Great Britain with her husband William III.

Along with William III, Mary embarked on furnishing the newly-enlarged palaces of Hampton Court and Kensington. She engaged the French Protestant designer Daniel Marot, who had worked for the royal couple at Het Loo in the Netherlands. Marot's work was heavily influenced by the French Baroque taste of Versailles and the French Court and he brought those ideas to Britain, beginning with a redesign for part of the garden at Hampton Court. Mary, like William, was interested in some of the historic works in the royal collection and concerned for their preservation. She ordered curtains to be made to preserve the redisplayed Raphael cartoons from too much light, though she died before this was completed.

Like her husband, Mary patronised Godfrey Kneller, commissioning him in the early 1690s to paint eight portraits of court beauties. These full-length portraits were inspired by Van Dyck's works, showing a visual continuity with the earlier Stuarts, perhaps important for monarchs who had not initially been in line to the throne. Mary remodelled a garden pavilion at Hampton Court that became known as the Water Gallery. Here, in a colour scheme inspired by her love of blue and white Delftware, she hung the portraits of the eight beauties, in blue and white frames.

Mary was a passionate collector of Dutch Delftware, and oriental porcelain. An inventory of Kensington Palace, taken in 1697, records 787 pieces of porcelain arranged through the nine rooms of her apartments there. This was Chinese and Japanese porcelain as Europe still had not discovered the secret of true porcelain. The porcelain was displayed against rich textiles and fabrics and lacquer furniture. Soon after Mary's untimely death from smallpox in 1694, the porcelain was given away to one of William III's favourites, the 1st Earl of Albemarle. He kept it at his country house in Holland and only a few pieces of it survive in the collection today.

Reigned: 1689–94
Consort of William III