This portrait of Charles I, painted in the eighteenth century, appears to derive from the portrait of the king by Sir Anthony van Dyck. Dated 1636, this original oil painting, which remains in the Royal Collection, was copied. It was probably conceived as an official state portrait. The present work shows just the head and shoulders of the king, whereas the Van Dyck full length includes kingly attributes such as the orb and sceptre. Other bust-length versions include an additional portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria, such as the double oil portrait in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence.

The regicide of Charles I was such a monumental event that portraits of the king – particularly romanticised images such as the present work – were commissioned well into the nineteenth century. His execution was an interruption in the accepted order of the ruling monarchy and by commissioning images, supporters of the royal family could continue to support (even in the smallest way) and...

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This portrait of Charles I, painted in the eighteenth century, appears to derive from the portrait of the king by Sir Anthony van Dyck. Dated 1636, this original oil painting, which remains in the Royal Collection, was copied. It was probably conceived as an official state portrait. The present work shows just the head and shoulders of the king, whereas the Van Dyck full length includes kingly attributes such as the orb and sceptre. Other bust-length versions include an additional portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria, such as the double oil portrait in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence.

The regicide of Charles I was such a monumental event that portraits of the king – particularly romanticised images such as the present work – were commissioned well into the nineteenth century. His execution was an interruption in the accepted order of the ruling monarchy and by commissioning images, supporters of the royal family could continue to support (even in the smallest way) and maintain the family line. The shocking story of the king’s death continued to resonate and captivate later generations; a fact which encouraged artists to produce idealised images of the long-dead monarch.

Although it has not been possible to identify the artist of this work, the technique of enamelling was so challenging and required highly specialised equipment. Therefore, it is likely that the present work was painted by a professional artist. By the later eighteenth century, the practice of enamelling was established in England, although the craft was dominated by artists trained in France and Switzerland.



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English School
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500 Years of British Art