- Place of origin:
Le Sueur, Hubert (maker)
- Materials and Techniques:
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
The portrait bust carved in marble had been a feature of classical art and was revived during the Renaissance. Similar busts were frequently reproduced in bronze, with minor changes, as the officially approved sculptural image of the King. Portrait busts were unusual in early 17th-century England and were commissioned mainly by those in court circles.
Hubert Le Sueur was the son of a master armourer in Paris, where he became established as a court artist. He was appointed as one of the sculptors to Louis XIII in January 1614. In 1625 he was sent to England to work at the court of Charles I, shortly after the King's marriage to Louis' sister, Henrietta Maria. The use of marble is unique for Le Sueur's portrait busts, as he specialised primarily in bronze. His impressive equestrian bronze portrait of Charles I now in Trafalgar Square is signed and dated 1633.
The bust is dated 1631, the first year that Le Sueur was recorded in the King's employ, when he also spent four months in Rome taking casts of ancient sculpture. The sculpture is the earliest datable bust of the monarch by the artist and marks an increasing interest in sculptural portraits in England during the 1630s and 40s.
This life-size bust, is tapering down to an elaborate base with scroll-work. The king wears a falling collar over richly embossed armour with a lion mask on the breast and a grotesque female figure on each shoulder. He has a military scarf and the Lesser George of the Garter, and his long hair falls over his left shoulder. Inscibed on the base.
Place of Origin
Le Sueur, Hubert (maker)
Materials and Techniques
Marks and inscriptions
'CAROLVS REX ARTATIS SVAE AN XXXI'
King Charles at the age of 31
Inscribed on the base in raised letters
'HVBERT-VS LE SVEVR FACIEBAT 1631'
Hubert le Sueur made this 1631
Inscribed at the base in raised letters.
Height: 87 cm, Width: 65 cm, Depth: 30 cm, Width: 65 cm, Depth: 25 cm
Object history note
Probably made for Charles I; other bronze versions are known. Carved in London by Hubert Le Sueur (born in Paris, about 1590, died there after 1658). Stated at the time of purchase to have come from The Hague, and stated to have been formerly in the royal palace Huis ten Bosch. Purchased from Durlacher Bros., 42 New Bond Street in 1910.
Bust, marble, portrait of Charles I, By Hubert Le Sueur, London, dated 1631
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Avery, Charles. 'Hubert le Sueur's Portraits of Charles I in Bronze. In: National Trust Studies, I, 1978, pp. 130-131
Whinney, M. Sculpture in Britain 1530 to 1830, (revised by J. Physick), London, 1988 (second edition), p. 87, and pp. 438-9, note 88
Brown, F. P. London Sculpture. Oxford, 1934, p. 48
Peta, Evelyn. 'Hubert le Sueur's equestrian bronzes at the Victoria & Albert Museum. In: The Burlington Magazine, (Feb. 1995), Vol. CXXXVII, No. 1103, p. 86, n. 7
Howarth, D. 'Charles I, Sculpture and Sculptor's'. In: A. MacGregor (ed.), The Late King's Goods, Oxford University Press, London & Oxford, no. 3, p. 88, fig 38
Bilbey, Diane and Trusted, Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470-2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2002, p.17, cat.no 19
Labels and date
It may have been the influence of the Queen, Henrietta Maria (1609-1669), that brought the French sculptor and bronze founder Hubert Le Sueur to work at the court of Charles I (1600-1649). This formal image of the king in armour is based on busts of his father-in-law, the French king, Henri IV (1553-1610). [27/03/2003]
Female figure; Scroll-work; Bust; Lion-mask
Sculpture; Portraits; Royalty