Framed Dimensions:253.5 x 181 cm. (99 2/3 x 71 1/4 in.)
Provenance:William 'Kitty' Courtenay, 9th Earl of Devon (c.1768 - 1835), Powderham Castle, Devon ;
Lt.-Col. Thomas Richmond-Gale-Braddyll (1776 - 1862), Conishead Priory; until his (bankruptcy) sale;
Christie's, London, 23 May 1846;
(possibly) Thomas Townley-Parker (1822 - 1906); to his nephew ;
Reginald Arthur Tatton (1857 - 1926), Astley Hall, Chorley and Cuerden Hall, Preston, Lancashire; until his estate sale ;
Christie's, London, 28 February 1947, lot 87; bt. by;
Private Collection, Sweden.
An Inventory of the Effects at Powderham Castle in the County of Devon directed by the Will & codicil of the Rt. Hon. William the 9th Earl of Devon to be preserved as heirlooms, November 1835 (Earl of Devon’s archive, Powderham Castle);
O. Millar, The Tudor, Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, Vol. 1, London 1963, p. 96.
Further information:Charles I (1600 - 1649), who was arguably the most divisive monarch in British history, was not born to be king, however the premature death of his more confident and acclaimed elder brother, Henry Frederick, left the meeker Charles heir to the British throne.
A firm believer in the 'divine right of kings' - that a sovereign was only accountable to God - Charles employed Van Dyck's prodigious talents to create for him through state portraiture a gloriously majestic persona, as seen here, which is a variant of the official portrait which remains today in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. He is depicted in rich blue velvet robes trimmed with gold and ermine, with the collar of the Order of the Garter (the highest chivalric distinction in England) around his neck, and a basket-hilted broad sword by his hip. His crown and orb are just within a finger's distance, emblematic of his perceived divine right to the rule his lands.
Unfortunately, his stubborn nature and antagonistic style culminated in unpopular autocratic policies - including imposing strict religious reforms and raising money without parliamentary consent - eventually alienated many in the nobility and army and, thus, became a catalyst for England's last and very brutal civil war. This concluded in his defeat and prosecution by his own subjects for high treason, with a fatal sentence of execution by beheading.
Whilst Charles I provoked many politically, his private passion for the cultural arts proved his greatest legacy; many, if not most, of the paintings that form the core of the world-renowned Royal Collection were bought, or even commissioned, by him during his rule. His patronage of Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi, and Sir Anthony van Dyck in particular, stimulated their prodigious careers to the extent that they remain amongst the most celebrated master painters in art history.