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King James VI of Scotland and I of England wears a black hat, decorated with a jewelled hatband, a black feather and a hat jewel. James also wears a red doublet (close fitting jacket) and black cloak. It appears that a very thin, transparent collar lies over his white shirt collar. However, this work is based on a sketched pattern, taken from an earlier portrait, which showed the king with a white collar, trimmed with lace. The lace collar has apparently been misinterpreted in this portrait.
This work is one of many examples of a portrait of James I derived from an original painted by John de Critz in about 1605-06. John de Critz painted several versions of the work himself but, like this somewhat crude example, large numbers were produced by other artists. This example was probably made by a team of artists, working together in a workshop and each specialising in a different aspect of portrait painting.
The celebrated painter Marcus Gheeraerts the younger (1561-1635) used de Critz’s face pattern for his own portraits of James I, painted in 1611 and 1618. James disliked sitting for portraits, which may explain why the same basic model for his depiction is repeated in so many portraits.
John de Critz was born in Antwerp. He was brought to England in 1568 and apprenticed to Lucas de Heere, a Flemish painter who worked in England from about 1567 to 1576. From 1582 to 1588 he was employed by Sir Francis Walsingham and sent abroad as a courier, especially to Paris. By 1598 he was one of the leading portrait painters in London. He held the office of Serjeant-Painter jointly with Leonard Fryer from 1605 and with Robert Peake from 1607 to 1619. He had three sons, all of whom became painters.
King James VI and I (1566-1625) reigned Scotland from 1567, England 1603-1625
Oil on panel
height: 25.90 cm, width: 20.40 cm
Purchased from Christie's, 17 January 1947
Collection of ‘Charles Stirling’; by whom sold through Christie's, London, ‘Old Pictures: Prop. of Mrs. Braund, Charles Stirling and Old Pictures and Drawings from Other Sources’ sale, on 17 January 1947 (Lot 35) as by Zuccaro; purchased by ‘Wingrove’ on behalf of the Ministry of Works
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