Johann Georg Ziesenis: Portrait of Frederika Sophia Wilhelmina (1768-1769)

(Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague, The Netherlands)

A painting by the German - Danish artist Johann Georg Ziesenis (1716 - 1776). The woman on this painting is Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia (1751 – 1820), daughter of Prince Augustus William of Prussia (1722 – 12 June 1758) - brother of King Frederick II 'The Great' of Prussia. She married on 4 October 1767 with Prince William V of Orange, Stadtholder of the United Provinces. Wilhelmina was a very politically ambitious and proud woman who dominated her spouse. Her most famous moment is the incident at Goejanverwellesluis on 28 June 1787. At the end of the 18th century, the Netherlands was in a deep economic crisis. A portion of the Dutch population grew increasingly discontent with the authoritarian regime of the stadtholder, William V and organized themselves as the 'Dutch Patriots'. These Dutch Patriots were seeking to reduce the amount of power held by the stadtholder and politically were opposed by the Orangists who supported Prince William V of Orange. During a travel of Wilhelmina to The Hague she was stopped by Dutch Patriots detained for a time after which she was released. Wilhelmina was very offended by the whole incident and applied to her brother king Frederick William II of Prussia for help. On September 13 a Prussian army of 20,000 men under the command of Duke of Brunswick crossed the border and defeated the Dutch Patriots who fled to France. The victory was short lived because after the French Revolution the Dutch patriots returned in 1795 with support from the French army. Dutch forces were quickly defeated and the Batavian Republic in 1795 was proclaimed. Prince William V of Orange and Wilhelmina of Prussia went into exile in Great Britain and eventually to Germany. After the Battle of Leipzig on 16-19 October 1813 Napoleon was decisively defeated and French occupation of the Netherlands collapsed. Wilhelmina returned in 1814 to the Netherlands and her son Prince William Frederick of Orange-Nassau was installed as king of the Netherlands. Painting from 1768-1769.