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Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)

Charles I (1600-1649) Signed and dated 1636

RCIN 404398

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This image of Charles I may have been conceived as an official state portrait. It was much copied and was sometimes accompanied by a portrait of the Queen.

The painting contains all the elements of a state portrait: a grand setting, the king shown virtually full-face, motionless and composed, dressed in ermine-lined robes with the orb and sceptre clearly visible. His Van Dyck has aimed to overcome the problem of the King's modest stature, by taking a low vantage point and looking upwards, to increase the illusion of height. There is a pentimento at the base of the column, suggesting the position of the crown may have been slightly lowered.

The portrait was painted for the King, possibly to form part of the royal family portrait gallery in the Cross Gallery at Somerset House. It was sold in 1649, but later restored to the monarchy. Many copies are recorded, both in the full length format as here and in an abbreviated three-quarter length version, as well as separate copies of the head alone.

Signed lower centre right: Anto van dijck Eques Fecit and dated centre right, 1636 under the initials CR below a crown