CRITZ, John de, the Elder
(b. ca. 1551, Antwerpen, d. 1642, London)

King James I of England

c. 1605
Oil on canvas, 196 x 120 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

James I (1566-1625) was king of Scotland (as James VI) from 1567 to 1625 and first Stuart king of England from 1603 to 1625. He styled himself "king of Great Britain." James was a strong advocate of royal absolutism, and his conflicts with an increasingly self-assertive Parliament set the stage for the rebellion against his successor, Charles I.

On the painting, the king appears full-length in a room richly decorated with an armchair with cushions on which rests his hat decorated with a jewel, identified it as "The mirror of Great Britain", one of the most important in this king's collection, designed to commemorate the union of the two kingdoms under his mandate. His clothes follow the European fashion of the moment, with a silver doublet with sleeves decorated with rhinestones and a leather, a kind of vest that comes from military clothing, sewn with pearls. On the shoulders wears a hoodless coat with the front edges turned lined with a rich fabric. Under the panties, the stockings and the white tights highlight his leg showing - along with the medal of St. George that hangs from his chest - the ceremonial symbols of the Order of the Garter.

Formerly the portrait was attributed to Paulus van Somer.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.