Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Charles I (1600-1649) when Prince of Wales 1620s

After Daniel Mytens 

Charles I (1600-1649) when Prince of Wales, After Daniel Mytens
Oil on wood panel
17th Century
27 x 20 inches, 68cm x 51cm
Daniel Mytens was the principle painter at the Stuart court from the early 1620s to the mid 1630s. This portrait is a contemporary replica, perhaps painted in Mytensís studio, of one of his most important early commissions, and shows Charles I before he became King in 1625. It is a rare example of early Carolinian portraiture from the pre-Van Dyck era, and is one of few representations of Charles as Prince of Wales.

A receipt in the royal archives tells us much about the circumstances of the original commission for this portrait type. In October 1623, Mytens was paid £30 for a full-length for the Spanish Ambassador, Don Carlos de Colona. The painting was almost certainly intended as part of Charlesí long, and ultimately fruitless, attempt to win the hand of Philip IV of Spainís daughter, the Infantina. Charles, always of a hyperactive imagination, had fallen in love with the notion of this unlikely Spanish match, and had even spent six months vainly pursuing the Infantina in Spain. Despite returning to England in August 1623 without even a hint of a marriage contract, Charles evidently decided to send his erstwhile love a handsomely attractive portrait of himself, perhaps as a final reminder of his eligibility.

In one of the prime full-length versions of the present portrait [Royal Collection, dated 1623] Charles stands tall and proud. This is as much a testament to Mytensí ability to flatter his sitters, for Charles was in reality anything but. Here, Charles looks far more masculine than in the later, more effete portraits by Van Dyck. The Mytens full-lenghts also demonstrate his talent for placing a strong emphasis on the sittersí face, which is projected, almost glowingly, from the background, a characteristic that can also be seen in the present example.
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