David des Granges, circa 1643, after Sir Peter Lely’s portrait at Syon House (the home of the Earl of Northumberland) A rare portrait of the young James II, when Duke of York on vellum, set in the original silver frame, the reverse inscribed Remember Death within engraved borders of bones
Dimensions: oval, 2 7/8 inches high
Edward Grosvenor Paine, Christie's, 23rd October, 1979, lot 29 The motto Remember Death on the reverse is a phrase which derives from the latin Memento mori translated as "Remember your mortality", "Remember you must die" or "Remember you will die" . It is to remind people of their own mortality. The implication on this miniature might be two fold, firstly it is a reference and reminder of his own father's death in January 1649. Secondly it might infer that, although James might be entitled to the loyalty of those, whether abroad or still in England, who counted themselves members of the monarchical culture, even members of Royalty die. The miniature is significant in that it is taken at a crucial time in the Stuart History, when James's mother had escaped into exile, with his elder brother Charles, later Charles II, whilst at the same time his father was imprisoned. James's own future was clearly very uncertain. He was under the custody of the Earl of Northumberland , who clearly was very fond of him, however, in 1648 James managed to escape to the Hague to be with his mother and brother.