Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
The Three Eldest Children of Charles I
Earlier in 1635 Van Dyck had painted a group of the Queen’s eldest children, to be sent to her sister, Christina, Duchess of Savoy, in exchange for portraits of the Duchess’s children. However, the dispatch of the paintings was delayed and it was reported that the King was ‘faché contre le painter Vandec’ (‘angry with the painter Van Dyck’) because his eldest son was shown still wearing skirts (as young boys did at this date) rather than the more grown-up and impressive breeches. It may partly have been to placate the King that Van Dyck completed this more adult group, presumably painted between the end of November 1635 and 25 March 1636.
In this second design Prince Charles is wearing breeches and the children are accompanied by two King Charles spaniels. The backcloth is a richly embroidered Italian velvet. The colours in the costumes are opulent: a deep gold, contrasting with a rose pink and very blue note in the whites. The dogs are painted with remarkable fluency and a touching relationship is established between the two little boys.
This was a very popular design and numerous copies were made of the painting
Inscribed:REGIS MAGNAE BRITANIAE / PROLES / PRINCEPS CAROLVS NATVS 29 MAY 1630./ IACOBVS DVXEBORACENCIS NATVS 14 OCT:1633 / ET FILIA PRINCEPS MARIA NATA 4 NO: 1631 and signed and dated...,PER AN VAN DYCK EQ. / ANNO 1635