“Equestrian Portrait of Charles I” by Anthony van Dyck
“Equestrian Portrait of Charles I” by Anthony van Dyck glorifies Charles I on horseback after he becomes King of England, Scotland, and Ireland in 1625. The portrait was painted about 1637–38, only a few years before the English Civil War broke out.
Charles is depicted wearing his suit of armor, riding a heavily muscled horse with a peculiarly small head. To the right of the picture, a page is holding up the King’s helmet.
Van Dyck became the Charles’ Principal Painter in Ordinary in 1632, and he has painted Charles as a heroic philosopher king, carrying a baton of command, with a long sword and wearing the medallion of the Sovereign of the Order of the Garter.
His distant expression was designed to demonstrate wisdom. The tablet tied to a branch reads CAROLUS I REX MAGNAE BRITANIAE (Charles I King of Great Britain).
This was a political statement referring to the united crowns of Scotland and England. Charles I, proclaimed himself King of Great Britain, and nearly 70 years before the Acts of Union legally created the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Anthony van Dyck was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England, after enjoying great success in Italy and the Southern Netherlands.
He is most famous for his portraits of Charles I of England and his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next 150 years.
Charles I of England
Charles I (1600 – 1649) was monarch from 1625, and soon after his succession, Charles quarreled with the Parliament of England, which sought to curb his royal prerogative.
Charles believed in the divine right of kings and thought he could govern according to his conscience. Many of his subjects opposed his policies, which led to the English Civil War.
After his defeat in 1645, Charles refused to accept his captors’ demands for a constitutional monarchy and was tried, convicted, and executed for high treason in 1649.
The monarchy was abolished, and a republic called the Commonwealth of England was declared. The monarchy was later restored to Charles’s son, Charles II, in 1660.
Anthony van Dyck
Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599 – 1641) was a Flemish artist who became the leading court painter in England after success in the Southern Netherlands and Italy.
Van Dyck started painting from an early age. He gained early success as a painter, becoming a master in the Antwerp guild in 1618. He worked in the studio of 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 traveling to Italy, where he stayed until 1627.
He spent five years after his return from Italy in Flanders, and from 1630 was a court painter for Archduchess Isabella, Habsburg Governor of Flanders.
In 1632 he returned to London to be the principal court painter at the request of Charles I of England.
He is best known for his portraits of European aristocracy, most notably Charles I and his family and associates.
He also painted mythological and biblical subjects, including altarpieces, and was an important innovator in watercolor and etching. Charles I granted him a knighthood, and he was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.
Equestrian Portrait of Charles I
- Title: Equestrian Portrait of Charles I
- Artist: Anthony van Dyck
- Year: 1638
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions: H: 365 cm (11.9 ft); W: 289 cm (113.7 in)
- Museum: National Gallery, London
Anthony van Dyck
- Name: Anthony van Dyck
- Birth: 1599 – Antwerp, Spanish Netherlands (modern-day Belgium)
- Died: 1641 (aged 42) – London
- Nationality: Flemish
- Movement: Baroque
- Notable Works:
Art restoration – Van Dyck’s ‘Charles I’
Animated Equestrian Portrait of Charles I – Comically Animated
Explore The National Gallery
13th Century Paintings
- “The Virgin and Child Enthroned, with Narrative Scenes” by Margarito d’Arezzo – 1264
- “The Virgin and Child” by Master of the Clarisse – 1268
- “Crucifix” by Master of Saint Francis – 1270
14th Century Paintings
- Wilton Diptych – 1395
- “The Annunciation” by Duccio – 1311
- “The Healing of the Man Born Blind” by Duccio – 1311
15th Century Paintings
- “Arnolfini Portrait” by Jan van Eyck – 1434
- “The Battle of San Romano” by Paolo Uccello– 1440
- “Venus and Mars” by Sandro Botticelli – 1483
- “Portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredan” by Giovanni Bellini– 1501
16th Century Paintings
- “Mystic Nativity” by Sandro Botticelli – 1550
- “Virgin of the Rocks” by Leonardo da Vinci – 1506
- “The Madonna of the Pinks” by Raphael – 1507
- “The Raising of Lazarus” by Sebastiano del Piombo– 1519
- “Salvator Mundi” by Andrea Previtali – 1519
- “Bacchus and Ariadne” by Titian – 1523
- “The Ambassadors” by Hans Holbein the Younger – 1533
- “Mary Magdalene” by Girolamo Savoldo – 1540
- “Saint George and the Dragon” by Tintoretto – 1558
- “The Family of Darius before Alexander” by Paolo Veronese – 1567
- “Diana and Actaeon” by Titian – 1569
- “The Rape of Europa” by Paolo Veronese – 1570
- “The Death of Actaeon” by Titian – 1575
- “The Origin of the Milky Way” by Tintoretto – 1575
17th Century Paintings
- “Supper at Emmaus” by Caravaggio – 1601
- “Samson and Delilah” by Peter Paul Rubens – 1610
- “The Judgement of Paris” by Peter Paul Rubens – 1635
- “Aurora abducting Cephalus” by Peter Paul Rubens – 1637
- “Equestrian Portrait of Charles I” by Anthony van Dyck – 1638
- “Venus at her Mirror” by Diego Velázquez – 1651
- “Self Portrait at the Age of 63” by Rembrandt – 1669
- “A Young Woman standing at a Virginal” by Johannes Vermeer – 1670
18th Century Paintings
- “Bacchus and Ariadne” by Sebastiano Ricci – 1713
- “A Regatta on the Grand Canal” by Canaletto – 1740
- “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews” by Thomas Gainsborough – 1749
- “Eton College” by Canaletto – 1754
- “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump” by Joseph Wright of Derby – 1768
- “Self-portrait in a Straw Hat” by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – 1782
19th Century Paintings
- “Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel” by Francisco Goya – 1805
- “The Emperor Napoleon I” by Horace Vernet – 1815
- “Dido Building Carthage” by J. M. W. Turner – 1815
- “Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows” by John Constable – 1831
- “The Execution of Lady Jane Grey” by Paul Delaroche – 1833
- “The Fighting Temeraire” by Joseph Mallord William Turner – 1839
- “Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway” by J. M. W. Turner – 1844
- “Cimabue’s Celebrated Madonna is carried in Procession through the Streets of Florence” by Frederic Leighton – 1855
- “Madame Moitessier” by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres– 1856
- “The Gare St-Lazare” by Claude Monet – 1877
- “Bathers at Asnières” by Georges Seurat – 1884
- “Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh – 1888
- “After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself” by Edgar Degas – 1895
- “Boulevard Montmartre at Night” by Camille Pissarro – 1898
20th Century Paintings
- “Misia Sert” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir – 1904
- “Portrait of Hermine Gallia” by Gustav Klimt – 1904
- Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses) by Paul Cézanne – 1905
- “Men of the Docks” by George Bellows – 1912
- “Water-Lilies” by Claude Monet (National Gallery, London) – 1916
Explore The National Gallery
- The National Gallery
- Masterpieces of The National Gallery
- The National Gallery, London – Crossword Puzzles
National Gallery’s Equestrian Portrait of Charles I by van Dyck
Charles I of England Quotes
“Never make a defense or apology before you are accused.”
“The people’s liberties strengthen the king’s prerogative, and the king’s prerogative is to defend the people’s liberties.”
“I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible Crown, where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world.”
“I die a Christian, according to the profession of the Church of England, as I found it left me by my father.”
Art restoration of one of our largest paintings: Retouching Van Dyck’s ‘Charles I’
“Democracy is the power of equal votes for unequal minds.”
– Charles I of England
Photo Credit: 1) Anthony van Dyck [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons