Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Charles I (1600–1649), King of England

Daniël Mijtens (Dutch, Delft ca. 1590–1647/48 The Hague)
Oil on canvas
78 7/8 x 55 3/8 in. (200.3 x 140.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of George A. Hearn, 1906
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 629
Born in Delft, Mijtens, or Mytens, had settled in London by 1618. He became court painter to James I in 1621 and also held the title under Charles I (1600-1649), until 1634, by which time Anthony van Dyck was reestablished in England. This is the prime, 1629 version of a standard full-length royal portrait type, with fine, detailed drapery painting and minor adjustments to various contours made by the artist.

This portrait is generally agreed to be the prime version of one of the standard types of royal portraits that the artist painted in London between the king's accession to the throne in 1625 and Mijtens's departure from England in 1634. The canvas is signed and dated 1629, and despite condition problems is clearly consistent in execution with autograph works of the period, such as the impressive full-length portrait of James, Duke of Hamilton, also of 1629 (Duke of Hamilton collection, on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh). The modeling of the figure, the sense of space around it, the suggestion of textures, the delicate handling of costume details, and a few pentimenti (for example, in the contours of the lace collar) leave little room for doubt about Mijtens's authorship.

Mijtens painted full-length portraits of Charles as Prince of Wales in the early 1620s. Ter Kuile (1969) considers the example at Parham Park, Sussex, to date from as early as 1621, and the one at Hampton Court is dated 1623. In these images and in the portrait of a more mature-looking prince dated 1624 (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa), Charles is turned in a three-quarters view to the right. The very large canvas dated 1626 and 1627 in the Galleria Sabauda, Turin, which has an elaborate architectural setting by Hendrick van Steenwyck the Younger (ca. 1580–?1649), shows the king from the same angle but in a more authoritative pose, with his right hand extended straight to a cane and his left arm akimbo. In 1628, Mijtens repeated the Turin-type figure of the king in a full-length portrait at Windsor Castle, where the setting is reduced to a tiled floor and a pillar and curtain flanking a balustrade (suggesting a balcony or terrace) with a view of landscape. Autograph replicas of the Windsor version are in Milton House, Northamptonshire, and in Hatfield House, Hertfordshire.

A new series of royal portraits begins with The Met's picture, where the king no longer seems to insist on his majesty, but simply stands next to its symbols on the table: the orb, scepter, and crown. He is dressed in red with silver embroidery and wears tan gloves and boots, and gold spurs. The blue sash and blue ribbon (the latter falling from behind the left knee) represent the Order of the Garter.

A workshop replica, unsigned but dated 1629, was formerly in the Spencer-Churchill collection at Northwick Park. Another unsigned version, dated 1631, is in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. The copy of The Met's painting in the Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth, Derbyshire, is monogrammed by Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen the Elder and dated 1631, which suggests that either the artist worked in Mijtens's studio (with other assistants, to be sure) or that about 1631 he was specially engaged to help satisfy demand. In addition, an unsigned version of the present composition, but with the figure in a dark gray costume with different details and no embroidery, is dated 1631 (National Portrait Gallery, London).

A third type of full-length portrait of Charles I by Mijtens presents the king in the ceremonial robes of the Order of the Garter. The prime version, dated 1633, is in Milton House, Northamptonshire. Much as this (most likely) last image of the king by Mijtens was adopted and improved by Van Dyck in his Charles I in Robes of State, dated 1636 (Windsor Castle), the same artist's Charles I at the Hunt ("Le roi à la ciasse") of about 1636 (Musée du Louvre, Paris), draws upon both earlier types of Charles I with a cane, and yet gives the impression that the king himself created the dashing pose.

Stopes (1910) published two references in royal account books of the period, one of which probably is to The Met's painting. The more promising of the two entries is the first, dated April 2, 1630: "bill for Daniell Mittens . . . viz., £60 for his Majesty's picture at large with a prospect, and the Crown and the Sceptre, in a scarlet embroidered suit." On June 29, 1631, the artist was credited "£50 for his Majesty's picture at large, with a prospect and the Crown and Sceptre, in a scarlet embroidered suit, delivered by special command unto the Lord Bishop of London in April, 1631."

The reference to France in the inscription on this canvas was earned through the king's marriage, in 1625, to Henrietta Maria (1609–1669), youngest child of Henry IV of France and Marie de Médicis.

[2017; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed: (lower right) Pinxit Daniel Mytens; (right, on column base) CAROLVS D[EI]G[RATIA] MAG[NI] / BRITANNIÆ FRANCIÆ / ET HIBERNIÆ REX / FIDEI DEFENSOR. / ÆTAT. 29. / ANNO 1629 (Charles, by the Grace of almighty God, king of Britain, France, and Ireland. Defender of the Faith. Aged 29. In the year 1629)
George A. Hearn, New York (until 1906)
Tokyo National Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 10–October 1, 1972, no. 76.

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 8–November 26, 1972, no. 76.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion," May 3–September 4, 2006, unnumbered cat. (p. 153).

Charlotte C. Stopes. "Daniel Mytens in England." Burlington Magazine 17 (June 1910), p. 162, publishes three documents from the royal accounts that may relate to this picture: "£60 for his Majesty's picture at large with a prospect, and the Crown and the Sceptre, in a scarlet embroidered suit, and for charges in making that picture at Greenwich. . . . Signed Aprill 2nd 1630"; "£50 for his Majesty's picture at large, with a prospect and the Crown and Sceptre, in a scarlet embroidered suit, delivered by special command unto the Lord Bishop of London in April, 1631; £50 more for ye like picture delivered to ye Earl of Pembroke in May, 1631; £5 for making ye said pictures and attendance at Greenwich, Signed June 29th 1631"; noting that the third picture described is at Wilton [Earl of Pembroke].

C. H. Collins Baker. Lely & the Stuart Portrait Painters: A Study of English Portraiture before & after Van Dyck. London, 1912, vol. 1, pp. 42–43 n. 1; vol. 2, p. 110, lists documents in the royal accounts that refer to fifteen Mijtens portraits of Charles I; observes that of the four he has seen, the examples at Coombe Abbey [Earl of Craven, later Royal Collection] and Chatsworth show the king full length in red; points out that in only three cases is the color of the king's dress—red—described; assumes that the replicas were done in batches and therefore dates the Coombe Abbey and Chatsworth pictures to the same years as the documents, that is 1630–31; mentions this portrait, tentatively dating it 1630.

F. M. Kelly. "Mytens and His Portraits of Charles I." Burlington Magazine 37 (August 1920), pp. 84, 89, pl. II, D, notes that this portrait is signed and dated 1629 but that, as payments seem not to have been prompt, it may well be one of those mentioned in the 1630–31 accounts as showing Charles I in "a scarlet embroidered suit," with the crown and sceptre and "a prospect"; finds it more sympathetic than the 1631 portrait of the king in a dark gray suit at the National Portrait Gallery.

Oliver Millar. "An Attribution to Cornelius Johnson Reinstated." Burlington Magazine 90 (November 1948), p. 322, in connection with the Chatsworth picture, which he points out is signed and dated 1631 by Cornelis Jonson and includes a "prospect" of Windsor Castle in the background, attributes this portrait to Mijtens despite the fact that it lacks the "prospect" referred to in the documents; mentions a version of 1631 in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich and a version which he believes to be in the Craven collection.

Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 2, p. 572, no. 1505, ill.

Ellis Waterhouse. Painting in Britain, 1530 to 1790. London, 1953, p. 37, describes it as an original of 1629, representative of the earliest of three principal types of Mijtens portraits of the king; mentions a rather hard studio copy of 1631 at Greenwich and Cornelis Jonson's copy of 1631 at Chatsworth, observing that Jonson must have been working with Mijtens at the time.

Julius S. Held. "'Le Roi à la Ciasse'." Art Bulletin 40 (March 1958), p. 148.

David Piper. Catalogue of Seventeenth-Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1625–1714. Cambridge, 1963, p. 61, in connection with the National Portrait Gallery picture, which he calls probably a version from Mijtens's studio of a portrait which was popular between 1629 and 1631, mentions this one as a signed and dated version of 1629; suggests that it is not quite certain that the design was Mijtens's in the first place, as the portrait that most closely resembles the description in the documents is that signed and dated 1631 by Cornelis Jonson, which is at Chatsworth.

O[nno]. ter Kuile. "Daniel Mijtens: 'His Majesties Picture-Drawer'." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 20 (1969), pp. 11, 14, 58–59, no. 28, fig. 23 [figs. 22 and 23 transposed], describes this picture as the prototype, listing additional versions: sale, Christie's, London, June 25, 1965, no. 68 (Mijtens atelier, dated 1629); National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (Mijtens atelier, 1631); Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth (by Cornelis Jonson, 1631); sale, Christie's, London, June 22, 1928, no. 73 (copy); sale, Sotheby's, London, May 8, 1946, no. 76 (copy); also National Portrait Gallery, London (Mijtens atelier, 1631); sale, Christie's, London, December 10, 1948, no. 108 (Mijtens atelier).

Torbjörn Fulton in The Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 21, New York, 1996, p. 509, as "the original portrait painted and signed by Mijtens himself in 1629," of which the portrait signed and dated by Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen is a close replica.

Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. x, 380, 484–88, no. 124, colorpl. 124, fig. 114 (color detail).

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