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Portrait miniature - Charles I, as Prince of Wales
  • Charles I, as Prince of Wales
    Gerbier, Balthazar Sir, born 1592 - died 1663
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Charles I, as Prince of Wales

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1616 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Gerbier, Balthazar Sir, born 1592 - died 1663 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour, shaded with graphite on vellum

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 6

Object Type
Strictly speaking, this is a drawing rather than a miniature, which is a watercolour art. But Balthazar Gerbier, an amateur artist, was also a painter of miniatures and the drawing incorporates some aspects of miniature painting, being on vellum (a fine parchment) and using touches of watercolour.

Gerbier was born in The Netherlands but his early education and training are obscure. He must have been schooled in the accomplishments necessary for courtiers, particularly a knowledge of 'war-like machines'. This recommended him to Prince William of Orange, whose service he entered in 1615. In 1616 he was sent to England to work for the Dutch ambassador, but soon after transferred his service to George Villiers, the Earl, and subsequently Duke, of Buckingham. He became the Duke's domestic architect and adviser on matters of art. In 1628, after Buckingham's assassination, Gerbier transferred formally to the service of Charles I.

Historical Associations
This picture was drawn about 1616, when Gerbier had just arrived in England and Charles was formally invested as Prince of Wales. The Latin inscription translates as 'Most illustrious and powerful Prince of Great Britain and Ireland, Prince Charles'. Thus it celebrates the Prince's new standing, an appropriate subject for an ambitious courtier in the making.

Physical description

Portrait half-length, to left and looking to front. The sitter is wearing a ruff collar and a chain over his shoulders. The portrait is set in a decorated border with a coat of arms and the feathers of the Prince of Wales above. Features in dark grey-brown stipple over perhaps a faint pale brown under drawing on the bare vellum; hair in pale brown stipple and line, shaded with graphite; collar, bare vellum slightly lined with pale brown; costume in pale brown stipple; architectural surround similarly in stipple and line, 'ruled' also in parallel and concentric lines and with some graphite shading; a ruled marginal strip; on unsupported vellum.

Frame: Nineteenth-century frame of tortoiseshell and stained oak, with gilt-lined rebate.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1616 (made)


Gerbier, Balthazar Sir, born 1592 - died 1663 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour, shaded with graphite on vellum

Marks and inscriptions

'Gerbier fec 1616'
Signed and dated

'Magnae Britaniae et Hiberniae Princep Illustriss: et Potentiss: Princeps Caro [lus]'
Lettered round the image

'Gerber / N28'
Inscribed on the back in graphite by a nineteenth-century (?) hand

'17 48'
Inscribed on the back in ink


Height: 14.7 cm including frame and hanging loop, Width: 11.4 cm including frame, Depth: 1.6 cm including frame

Object history note

Provenance: Acquired by John Jones from an unrecorded source before 1865, and by him bequeathed to the Museum, 1882.

Descriptive line

Portrait of Charles I, as Prince of Wales. Miniature by Balthasar Gerbier, 1616

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Murdoch, John. Seventeenth-century English Miniatures in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: The Stationery Office, 1997.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Limning (painting miniatures) was regarded as a gentlemanly accomplishment. The artist, Sir Balthasar Gerbier, was a courtier who later went abroad on political and picture-buying missions for the Duke of Buckingham. [27/03/2003]


Watercolour; Graphite; Vellum



Subjects depicted

Prince; Feathers; Chain; Ruff


Portraits; Royalty; Drawings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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