King Charles I (1600-1649, reigned 1625-1649) and James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Hamilton (1606-1649)
About the work
Place: Department of Health and Social Care, 39 Victoria Street
King Charles I stands before his horse, dressed in hunting costume. He rests one hand on a cane. Charles wears a jacket, over which is the garter ribbon, with breeches and a wide brimmed hat decorated with a feather. Behind the king, the Duke of Hamilton attends to the horse, while a young boy holds a cloak for the king. The landscape setting may represent Greenwich Park, where Charles I often went hunting.
This is an engraving after one of van Dyck's most iconic portraits of Charles I, painted c.1636. The original painting, on which Robert Strange based his engraving, was part of the French Royal Collection and can now be seen in the Musée du Louvre, Paris. Strange engraved this work and a companion portrait of Charles’s queen, Henrietta Maria, from the British Royal Collection, in 1782.
About the artist
Engraver Sir Robert Strange was apprenticed to Richard Cooper (1736-42). He married the sister of the private secretary to the Old Pretender and became involved in the Jacobite uprising but later made peace with the Hanoverian regime. In 1760 he travelled to Rome to draw Italian paintings and buy prints, and was made a member of the academies of Paris, Florence, Rome and Naples, and professor of the academy in Parma. He returned to London in 1765 and became a fellow of the Society of Artists. Frustrated that the new Royal Academy omitted engravers, with fellow artists he wrote a critical work on ‘The Conduct of the Royal Academicians’ (1771) and his own ‘Inquiry into the Establishment of the Royal Academy’ (1775). He was knighted in 1787.
Sir Anthony van Dyck was born in Antwerp. Early in his career he was an assistant to Peter Paul Rubens. He first visited England between November 1620 and February 1621, where his work impressed King James I. He then travelled to Italy, staying until the autumn of 1627, before returning to Antwerp. During his time in Italy, van Dyck developed as a portrait painter, painting mostly wealthy merchant-princes. His style evolved under the influence of works by Titian and Veronese. In 1632 he returned to England, where he became 'Principal Painter in Ordinary' to Charles I. The following year he was knighted. His portraits of the royal family enhanced their prestige at home and abroad and his work had a profound influence on British portraiture.