King Charles I is depicted in three-quarters, turned to the left and gazing at spectators over his left shoulder. Adopting a formal pose, he places his right hand on the table, while holding a pair of gloves in his left. He wears a black satin cloak topped with a white patterned collar and decorations such as the Ribbon and Order of the Garter. Mandel’s print is after one of many versions of Van Dyck’s portraits of the King. The original, painted between 1635 and 1637 is said to have been destroyed in the Whitehall fire of 1679. Other versions can be found in the National Portrait Gallery, London and the National Trust. The Ham House version was probably given to William Murray by the King, as indicated in a Memorandum of Pictures bought by the King from Van Dyck and dated 1638–9. Another painting for Charles I's nephew, Charles Louis, Elector Palatine, dated 1637, and formerly in the Imperial Collection in Prague, is now in the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden.
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.
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