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Posthumous portrait of Mary Queen of Scots

The chambers at Holyrood are filled with items associated with Mary

François Clouet (c. 1520-72)

Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87) c. 1560-61

Oil on panel | 30.3 x 23.2 cm | RCIN 403429

Mary, Queen of Scots' Bedchamber, Palace of Holyroodhouse

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Mary, Queen of Scots is shown in white mourning dress (en deuil blanc) to mark the loss of three members of her immediate family within a period of 18 months: her father-in-law, Henri II of France, her mother, Mary of Guise and her husband, Francis II. In August 1560, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, the English ambassador, remarked on Mary’s intention to send a similar portrait to her cousin Elizabeth I. He quotes her as saying

I perceive you like me better when I look sadly than when I look merrily, for it is told me that you desired to have me pictured when I wore the deuil

Mary, Queen of Scots' letter to Elizabeth I