Flemish, 17th Century Portrait Painting - Portrait of Charles I (1600-1649) King of England, Scotland, and Ireland
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Flemish, 17th Century
Portrait of Charles I (1600-1649) King of England, Scotland, and Ireland

c.1640

About

Charles I is one of the most notorious monarchs in British history. His belief in his God-given right to rule, independent of Parliament, ultimately led to a divided nation and the death of around 200,000 Englishmen. In 1625 King Charles I (1600-1649) succeeded his father James I as king of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1632, on the invitation of Charles, Van Dyck arrived in London, and became his court painter creating images which expressed the king’s belief in his divine right to govern. This was an unusually close relationship to the king and queen and seemed to intensify after his return from Flanders in the spring of 1635. They clearly admired his work but most of the portraits that Van Dyke made of the king and queen during the latter half of the 1630s were not for the royal collection but were commissioned to be given away to relatives, friends, and loyal supporters. Over the course of nine years until his death he revolutionised portrait painting in England and Van Dyck’s style would later influence generations of portrait painters working in England. The present portrait probably dates from circa 1640. An imposing early image of the King, it is a fine version from a close follower of Van Dyck and derives from a type for which no certain original by the artist has survived. It most likely derives from the half-length in armour in the collection of the Duke of Norfolk at Arundel Castle, where the King’s left hand is shown resting on a helmet with a baton in his right hand. Many replicas and variations of this image were made and were intended for royal patrons, loyal subjects, foreign ambassadors, and followers of the Royalist cause. It was particularly popular and one of the most sought-after images of Charles during and after the Civil War, as royalist adherents sought images of the king as a military hero. In private houses, the display of a portrait of Charles I could not only demonstrate the owner’s loyalty to the king. In our portrait it is rare that the artist has furnished the portrait with the medieval Saint Edward’s Crown, as it appeared before its destruction in 1649 when Cromwell ordered the Royal regalia be “totally broken” as he had viewed it symbolic of the “detestable rule of kings”. A 1649 inventory detailed an “Imperial Crown of massy gold”, a “small crown”, and what was thought to be King Alfred’s Crown with “gold wirework, stones and two little bells”. It was thought to date back to the 11th century royal saint, Edward the Confessor (St Edward), the last Anglo-Saxon king of England and was used at the time of a coronation of British and English monarchs. The crown appears on the Coram Regis Rolls in 1643 which are legal documents overseen by the King (see image). The current Saint Edward’s Crown in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, is a later version of the medieval crown manufactured in 1661. The crown in our portrait, along with the medallion of a Garter Sovereign worn from a gold chain, has been created in gold. This would have been an extremely expensive endeavour and the message that this portrait conveys - Charles’ divine right to govern - was extremely important. The text could be a later addition. The reverse contains a collection stamp “175” and a label dated 1978 from Opwijk, Belgium. This was a period of fierce religious struggle in England although patronage and encouragements of the arts thrived and this period was arguably one of the most important in the historical development of the arts in England, to which this portrait testifies. Literature: The Glory of Regality: An Historical Treatise of the Anointing and Crowning of the Kings and Queens of England by Arthur Taylor, London 1820 Provenance: Private collection Belgium Measurements: Height 79cm, Width 71cm framed (Height 31”, Width 27.75” framed)

Details

  • Artist
    Flemish, 17th Century
  • Creation Year
    c.1640
  • Condition
    Good
  • Dimensions
    H 31.11 in. x W 27.96 in. x D 2.37 in.H 79 cm x W 71 cm x D 6 cm
  • Gallery Location
    London, GB
  • Reference Number
    LU119914289821
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