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A large and impressive English School antique oil on canvas portrait of King Charles I’s children after the original by Van Dyck. The present work is an early 19th-century copy of Van Dyck’s painting which dates to 1635-1636. The original is held in the Royal Collection [RCIN 404403], currently hanging in the Queen’s Gallery in Windsor Castle.
The Royal Collection note describes how ‘Earlier in 1635 Van Dyck had painted a group of the Queen’s eldest children, to be sent to her sister, Christina, Duchess of Savoy, in exchange for portraits of the Duchess’s children. However, the dispatch of the paintings was delayed and it was reported that the King was ‘faché contre le painter Vandec’ (‘angry with the painter Van Dyck’) because his eldest son was shown still wearing skirts (as young boys did at this date) rather than the more grown-up and impressive breeches. It may partly have been to placate the King that Van Dyck completed this more adult group, presumably painted between the end of November 1635 and 25 March 1636. In this second design, Prince Charles is wearing breeches and the children are accompanied by two King Charles spaniels. The backcloth is a richly embroidered Italian velvet. The colours in the costumes are opulent: a deep gold, contrasting with a rose pink and very blue note in the whites. The dogs are painted with remarkable fluency and a touching relationship is established between the two little boys. This was a very popular image and numerous copies were made of the painting.
Provenance: Private Collection, UK.
About the Artist:
Sir Anthony van Dyck 22 March 1599 – 9 December 1641) was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England after success in the Spanish Netherlands and Italy.
The seventh child of Frans van Dyck, a wealthy Antwerp silk merchant, Anthony painted from an early age. He was successful as an independent painter in his late teens and became a master in the Antwerp guild in 1618. By this time he was working in the studio of the leading northern painter of the day, Peter Paul Rubens, who became a major influence on his work.
Van Dyck worked in London for some months in 1621, then returned to Flanders for a brief time, before travelling to Italy, where he stayed until 1627, mostly in Genoa. In the late 1620s, he completed his greatly admired Iconography series of portrait etchings, mostly of other artists. He spent five years in Flanders after his return from Italy, and from 1630 was court painter for the Archduchess Isabella, Habsburg Governor of Flanders. In 1632, he returned to London to be the main court painter, at the request of Charles I of England.
With the exception of Holbein, van Dyck and his contemporary Diego Velázquez were the first painters of pre-eminent talent to work mainly as court portraitists, revolutionising the genre. He is best known for his portraits of the aristocracy, most notably Charles I, and his family and associates. Van Dyck became the dominant influence on English portrait painting for the next 150 years. He also painted mythological and biblical subjects, including altarpieces, displayed outstanding facility as a draughtsman, and was an important innovator in watercolour and etching.
His influence extends into the modern period. The Van Dyke beard is named after him. During his lifetime, Charles I granted him a knighthood, and he was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral, an indication of his standing at the time of his death.
Condition – In untouched original condition. There is some surface craquelure that is commensurate with age. The portrait is ready to hang and is presented in an associated gilt frame of a later date. A further detailed condition report is available upon request.
Size: 132.5 cm (52.2″) x 173.3 cm (68.3″)
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