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Daniel Mytens (c. 1590-1647)

Charles I Signed and dated 1628

Oil on canvas | 219.4 x 139.1 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 404448

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  • The Netherlandish painter Daniel Mytens was born in Delft but entered the Guild of St Luke at The Hague in 1610. He may have been a pupil of either Michiel van Miereveld or Jan Anthonisz van Ravesteyn, or both. By 1618 he was in London, painting the great connoisseurs the Earl and Countess of Arundel. He painted James I in 1621 and was awarded an annual pension by the King in 1624. Soon after his accession in 1625, Charles I appointed Mytens ‘one of our picture-drawers of our Chamber in ordinairie’ for life and from 1620 to 1634 there are regular payments to Mytens for official royal portraits.

    The young King elegantly rests his right hand on a stick, the Riband and badge (the Lesser George) of the Order of the Garter across his breast. An earlier example of this portrait type was painted in 1627 for the King’s sister-in-law the Duchess of Savoy, with an architectural background by Hendrick van Steenwyck (Galleria Sabauda, Turin). The design must have pleased the King since he sat for the artist again for this portrait, a fact proudly recorded with the inscription ad vivum (from the life) by the Pictor Regius (King’s painter). The portrait may well be the ‘great’ picture of the King for which on 16 May 1628 Mytens received £40 and which had been sent to the Countess of Nassau on 22 April 1628. Mytens portraits were not retained by the King, but despatched to friends, servants and officials overseas. Several payments for royal portraits state that Mytens had painted them at Greenwich. It is possible that the balustrade shown in the background of this portrait is that on the north terrace of the Queen’s House at Greenwich, with the river Thames beyond.

    The artist’s Dutch origins are evident in his sensitivity to texture and surface. Such characteristics are combined with the Elizabethan and Jacobean tradition of formal full-length court portraiture. Influenced by Paul van Somer, court portraitist from 1616 to1621, Mytens was eventually overshadowed by Sir Anthony van Dyck and in 1634 returned to The Hague.

    Charles wears a doublet of brownish plum-coloured silk with a sharply pointed V-shaped waistline. Below the waist at the front are four stiffened laps decorated with silver braid and gold silk satin. The doublet is paned across the chest, revealing a gold coloured silk lining, and the sleeves are constructed in stiffened strips of the same fabric. Tightly spaced buttons stretch from neck to waist ensuring the doublet retains its tight fit across the torso. Around the waistline are ribbon bows tipped with metal aglets. By this stage they are probably purely ornamental, a vestigial feature reflecting the earlier fashion for doublet and breeches to be laced together through holes in the waistband.

    Inscribed, signed and dated: Carolus. Dei. G. /Magnæ. Britaniæ. Franciæ / et. Hiberniæ. Rex. / fidei. Defensor ξ c / Ætatis: Suæ. 28. / anno. 1628./ ad vivum. dep. / D. Mytens. p. Regius / 1628.
    Provenance

    Reputedly, William, 1st Earl of Craven (1606-97), to whom either presented by Princess Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, or bequeathed by Prince Rupert; by descent to Cornelia, Countess of Craven; by whom bequeathed to Queen Elizabeth II, 1961

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas

    Measurements

    219.4 x 139.1 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    242.4 x 162.0 x 10.0 cm (frame, external)