RAPTOR AND RAPTURE: KING JAMES IV OF SCOTLAND WITH A PEREGRINE FALCON
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
AbstractDuring the 1400s and 1500s, noblemen and noblewoman were expected to participate in falconry. Therefore, I was surprised to discover that there was hardly anything written about the ca. 1500 portrait of James IV of Scotland with a Peregrine falcon, extant only in a copy by Daniel Mytens in 1620-1636. What was written was limited to issues of style and attribution of the copy painted by Mytens. There was nothing at all about the falcon or falconry implements represented in the portrait. To understand the function of this portrait, I considered the material culture and physical practices of falconry, the specific habits and characteristics of the falcon, symbolism of falconry in courtly love poetry, the history and culture of animals, the history and economic state of Scotland, and the actual expenses of the practice as recorded in court documents. I argue that the original watercolor portrait of James IV of Scotland with a Peregrine falcon functioned as a marriage portrait. Specifically, the relationship between James and his female falcon in the portrait served to promise a relationship of mutual trust, respect and loyalty between James and his bride-to-be in the future.