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Monthly Archives: mei 2017

Nicaise de Keyser,

Equestrian portrait of Willem II of Oranje-Nassau, 1846

and the

Portrait of his grey horse, 1846

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Equestrian portrait: oil on cloth, 285×210 cm, signed and dated 1846, Royal Collection, London

Portrait of the horse: oil on cloth, 69×53 cm, monogrammed and dated 1846, Venduehuis, The Hague, auction 27 May 2017, lot 1177

Willem II was portrayed because of his military actions in the Battle of Waterloo against Napoleon in 1814. The painting was meant for the Waterloo Gallery in Windsor Castle. In 1814 he was Prince of Oranje-Nassau, but the painting was made 32 years later after he had become King of the Netherlands in 1840.  The painter made one copy for the Dutch King and a duplicate copy for the British Queen. The paintings are still in these royal collections. This portrait clearly shows the characteristics of the horse which are also striking in the equestrian portrait: a broad chest, a raised neck, small ears, protruding eyes and the same grey color pattern.  This horse must have been the choice horse of Willem II when he was King. It was not the horse Willem rode in the Battle of Waterloo. That was Wexy, a bay one, which was set up and is still present in the museum of the Royal Mews in The Hague. The grey horse is likely to come from the actual stable of the King in 1846. Unfortunately we have not yet been able to discover its name, but it is a fortunate coincidence that the portrait of this horse showed up in The Hague after 171 years. (Litt. H. Hymans, Notice sur la vie et les travaux de Nicaise de Keyser, Bruxelles 1889)