DYCK, Sir Anthony van
(b. 1599, Antwerpen, d. 1641, London)

Charles I, King of England at the Hunt

c. 1635
Oil on canvas, 266 x 207 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

This painting, commissioned by the King, is one of the masterpieces of the artist. It is one of the great equestrian portraits Van Dyck made of Charles I. They glorify the absolute ruler Charles I wished to be. This emphasis has given these pictures a pronounced propagandist quality, which would have been even more obvious to anyone seeing them in the places for which they were originally intended, in prominent positions in royal residences. Artist and patron must both have had such examples in mind as Titian's Charles V at Mühlberg, the most influential Renaissance equestrian portrait of a victorious monarch. However, Van Dyck's portrait is more intimate in character. The fine, Venetian-inspired landscape setting, and the relaxed attitude of the king and his companion accord very well with the popularity of pastoral subject matter in contemporary literature and visual arts.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 9 minutes):
Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto in B flat major RV 362 op. 8 No. 10 (Hunt)