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Charles I of England and Queen Henrietta Maria

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Date:

    17th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Coques, Gonzales, born 1614 - died 1684 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on oak panel

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:

    1342-1869

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a reduced copy after the original (now in the collection of the Archiepiscopal Castle and Gardens, Kromeríž, Czech Republic), painted in 1632 by Anthony van Dyck, to sit above the chimney in the drawing room in Somerset House, London. King Charles I had granted Somerset House to the Queen in 1626 as part of her jointure; and soon after an elaborate program of redecoration began. Daniel Mytens [Mitjens] was first commissioned to paint a double portrait for the cabinet room but his work was deemed unsatisfactory. Van Dyck was then engaged and his version must have pleased for its emphasis on the union of the King (his sovereignty made plain by the regalia behind him) and the Queen, symbolised by the exchange to a garland of laurel, presented by the Queen to her husband and partly in allusion to her father’s (Henry IV) martial fame. The olive branch held in her left hand may also refer to Charles’ peace-loving father James I. There is a miniature copy of the queen’s head in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam which is signed and dated 1632 and a copy in miniature by John Hoskins of the whole picture, both of which were painted for the King.
There are several more copies both of the entire composition and of single figures in various collections and the work was also engraved by Van Voerst in 1634.

Physical description

A double portrait of King Charles I of England, wearing the blue ribbon of the Order of the Garter, and his wife Queen Henrietta Maria who proffers a laurel wreath and holds an olive branch. On the table behind the King lay his crown, sceptre and orb. An opening in the curtain behind the couple reveals a landscape beyond.

Date

17th century (painted)

Artist/maker

Coques, Gonzales, born 1614 - died 1684 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on oak panel

Dimensions

Height: 45.5 cm estimate, Width: 78.5 cm estimate, Height: 605 mm frames, Width: 936 mm frame, Depth: 60 mm frame

Object history note

Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncy Hare Townshend, 1868

'Chauncy Hare Townshend (1798-1868) was born into a wealthy family, only son of Henry Hare Townsend of Busbridge Hall, Godalming, Surrey. Educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (BA 1821). Succeeded to the family estates 1827, when he added 'h' to the Townsend name. He had taken holy orders, but while he always referred to himself as 'Rev.' on the title pages of his books, he never practised his vocation... . Very much a dilettante in the eighteenth-century sense, he moved in the highest social and literary circles; a great friend of Charles Dickens (he was the dedicatee of Great Expectations) with whom he shared a fascination of mesmerism... Bulwer Lytton described his life's 'Beau-deal of happiness' as 'elegant rest, travel, lots of money - and he is always ill and melancholy'. Of the many watercolours and British and continental oil paintings he bequeathed to the V&A, the majority are landscapes. He is the first identifiable British collector of early photographs apart from the Prince Consort, particularly landscape photography, and also collected gems and geological specimens.'

Ref : Parkinson, Ronald, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860. Victoria & Albert Museum, HMSO, London, 1990. p.xix.

Historical significance: This is a reduced copy after the original (now in the collection of the Archiepiscopal Castle and Gardens, Kromeríž, Czech Republic), painted in 1632 by Anthony van Dyck, to sit above the chimney in the drawing room in Somerset House, London. King Charles I had granted Somerset House to the Queen in 1626 as part of her jointure; and soon after an elaborate program of redecoration began. Daniel Mytens [Mitjens] was first commissioned to paint a double portrait for the cabinet room but his work was deemed unsatisfactory. Van Dyck was then engaged and his version must have pleased for its emphasis on the union of the King (his sovereignty made plain by the regalia behind him) and the Queen, symbolized by the exchange to a garland of laurel, presented by the Queen to her husband and partly in allusion to her father’s (Henry IV) martial fame. The olive branch held in her left hand may also refer to Charles’ peace-loving father James I. There is a miniature copy of the queen’s head in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam which is signed and dated 1632 and a copy in miniature by John Hoskins of the whole picture, both of which were painted for the King.
There are several more copies both of the entire composition and of single figures in various collections and the work was also engraved by Van Voerst in 1634.

Historical context note

This painting is in the tradition of double portraits of wedded couples, often symbolising their union or the union of their two families.

Descriptive line

Oil painting on oak panel, King Charles I of England and Queen Henrietta Maria. 17th century. Attributed to Gonzales Coques.

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

Millar, Oliver, 'Some Painters for Charles I' Burlington Magazine CIV (1962), p.326 ff.
Hashagen, Joanna and Santina M. Levey, Fine and Fashionable. Lace from the Blackbourne Collection County Durham : Bowes Museum, 2006. 88 p. : ill. (some col.). ISBN: 0954818245.
Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 72-73, cat. no. 70
Susan J. Barnes et al. Van Dyck: a complete catalogue of the paintings. New Haven ; London : Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, 2004.
Liskens-Pruss, Marion. Gonzalez Coques (1614-1684) : der kleine Van Dyck. Turnhout: Brepols , 2007.
Waagen, Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain: Being an account of more than forty collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Mss, etc, London, 1857, p.179.

Materials

Oak; Oil colour

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Wreaths (costume accessories); Laurel (foliage); Royal crown; Sceptres; Olive branch; Landscapes (representations); Orbs

Categories

Paintings; Portraits; Royalty

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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