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Portrait of Charles I on the Hunt

Painting, 1635, 266×207 cm

Description of the artwork «Portrait of Charles I on the Hunt»

Monumental canvas "Portrait of Charles I on the Hunt" - One of the most famous images of the monarch, who made Anthony van Dyck, being a court painter. Perhaps this is the most dynamic image of the ruler, which, strictly speaking, is not an official royal portrait, but, nevertheless, represents the king in all his triumph.

Charles I appears as an elegant courtier who dismounted for a short rest, while two pages take care of the horse. But with seeming negligence, the canvas reflects royal grandeur. The king, who was shy of his small stature, here he does not seem short at all. It rises above the landscape, its head is placed against the sky in fact flush with the branches of a tall tree. At the same time, the artist very cleverly framed his face with a hat so that it would not be lost against the background of clouds.

This picture literally embodies elegant carelessness. The king's pose is a subtle compromise between gentlemanly indifference and royal confidence: one hand rests proudly on the thigh, its elbow invades the space of the spectator, and the other lies on the cane - an attribute of nobility. Dismounting, Karl stood facing the horizon, but turned to look at the viewer. It seems that he was immersed in his thoughts and threw a glimpse at us, not even recognizing our presence, but as if noting “Oh, yes, of course, you are here.”

The suit of the ruler is undoubtedly too good for hunting: a wide-brimmed hat, boots with cuffs and a magnificent doublet, on the silver fabric of which the artist demonstrates his skill in transmitting light effects. Charles I, whose figure is brought to the foreground against the background of the servants in the shadows, looks at the landscape, which illustrates the diversity of his kingdom. Inscription in LatinCarolus I Rex Magnae Britanniae declares that he reigns over Great Britain, that is, the United Kingdom of England and Scotland.

Despite the fact that the king dismounted, in front of us in a sense, equestrian portrait. Van Dyck was able to convey royal greatness even without the traditional attributes of the monarchy - the crown, scepter or horse. The court painter Charles expressed the monarch's full control over the state, even depicting him in an informal hunting costume. Crowned customer knowingly invited the Flemish painter, showered him with favors and granted the title of knight. He understood the importance of art for propaganda.

The reign of Charles I can be called anything but not cloudless. He felt like an absolute authority, an absolute monarch, whose right to power comes from God. And during his reign, he was in conflict with the parliament, collecting money into the treasury with extortions, fines, monopolies and the like. In addition, in an effort to introduce a single Anglican church in the kingdom, Karl pursued the Puritans and Calvinists, giving preference to Catholicism before him and encouraging the introduction of dogmas and rituals that brought the church closer to Rome.

Other conflicts involved spending on major wars on the continent. In the end, all this led to two civil wars, the arrest of the king, the court, which found him guilty and sentenced to beheading. On February 9, 1649 the verdict was carried out. For a short time, England was ruled by the leader of the revolution and the zealous Puritan Oliver Cromwell. However, after his death, chaos, chaos and unrest began in the country, which resulted in the restoration of the monarchy and the accession of Charles II - the son of the executed king.

Charles I was probably the largest collector in the history of the British monarchy, despite the relatively short period of his passion - from about 1620 to the early 1640s. During this time, the king of the Stuarts dynasty collected about two thousand paintings, sculptures and other works that changed the taste of the nation. However, after the ruler was beheaded, the Republicans sold off the bulk of his collection, and the masterpieces of gold and silver melted. The best works that turned out to be abroad never returned to Britain, despite the attempts of Charles II to restore his father’s collection after the Restoration.

The painting “Portrait of Charles I on the Hunt” was not sold, but presented to the French court as a diplomatic gift, but it never returned to its homeland and is now part of the Louvre collection.

Anthony van Dyck has painted many brilliant images of representatives of the highest British nobility who laid the foundations of the English school. And this work was the prototype of the ideal aristocratic portrait, which dominated in England for almost 200 years. The Flemish artist had a great influence on his followers - especially in the 18th century - such asThomas Gainsborough and Joshua reynolds. And although we are looking at the picture, we know the subsequent history of the king and the tragic ending of his life, yet we understand that the canvas was written long before that. The king depicted here is still firmly convinced of his strength.

Author: Vlad Maslov
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait, Genre scene

Style of art: Baroque

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1635

Size: 266×207 cm

Artwork in selections: 8 selections

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