Five Children of King Charles I

Five Children of King Charles I, after Sir Anthony van Dyck, 17th century, based on a work of 1637 - NPG 267 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Five Children of King Charles I

after Sir Anthony van Dyck
oil on canvas, 17th century, based on a work of 1637
35 1/4 in. x 69 3/8 in. (895 mm x 1762 mm)
Purchased, 1868
Primary Collection
NPG 267

Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Painter. Artist associated with 1024 portraits, Sitter associated with 31 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The five children of Charles I are shown left to right: Princess Mary, (later Princess of Orange and mother of William III); James, Duke of York, (later James II); Prince Charles, (later Charles II); Princess Elizabeth and, in her sister's lap, Princess Anne. The future Charles II rests his hand on the head of an enormous mastiff. The mastiff had been a guard dog since Roman times and appears here as a protector for the royal children at a time of civil unrest. Nonetheless, the position of the young Prince's hand suggests that he is capable of ruling this powerful beast and, by implication, his country. The original of this group portrait was painted for Charles I in 1637, and is still in the Royal Collection. It shows the children at full length with two dogs, the mastiff depicted here and a small 'King Charles' spaniel at the right. Along with van Dyck's earlier picture of the three eldest children, it was an immensely popular composition, and was copied many times. Van Dyck's relatively informal group of royal children contrasts markedly with the stiff, formal portraits of a generation earlier.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D11400: The Five Eldest Children of King Charles I (based on same portrait)
  • NPG D32119: Five Children of King Charles I (based on same portrait)
  • NPG D26448: Progeny of Charles I (based on same portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1637back to top

Current affairs

Politician, John Hampden, fights a high profile case refusing to pay ship money imposed by Charles I, whose case is argued by Judge, Sir John Bankes. Hampden narrowly looses the case.
Charles I, eager to extend Anglicism to Scotland through the imposition of a new Prayer Book, meets with resistance.

Art and science

Sovereign of the Seas is launched, the largest, most lavishly decorated naval warship. Built by shipbuilder Peter Pett, construction is supervised by his father Phineas Pett.
John Milton's greatest memorial elegy, Lycidas, is dedicated to fellow poet Edward King.
Dramatist, Thomas Killigrew, writes his most popular play, The Parson's Wedding.


Charles I issues a proclamation that those emigrating to America must obtain a licence from the Commissioners for Plantations and a certificate proving allegiance to the king and conformity to the Church of England.
First recorded economic bubble. Contract prices for tulips in the Netherlands collapses having become very high.

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John Boning

28 October 2015, 02:57

This picture appears to be a copy of the Van Dyck Original formerly owned by the Duke of Leeds, The Leeds' picture was returned to the Royal Collection in mid August 1661 to Col. Hawley " A PIECE OF THE KING WHEN HE WAS YOUNG LAYING HIS HAND UPON A GREAT DOG WITH PRINCESSES BY TITIAN / MARY, THE DUKE OF YORK, PRINCESSES ELIZ AND LADY ANN". The picture, with no inscription, was attributed to Titian. However having been deceased 50+ years prior to 1637, Titian was recorded in error. The Leeds' picture also appears to have been copied by A. Browne in 1683/4. See the Royal License granted to Browne NPG history of mezzotint (which also contains a recording error [Q for Queen's over written with K for Kings]) - Kings family at length and N. Dixon (the King's Limner) in miniature. Many of the other copies after Van Dyck and the prepatory picture of the dogs also appear to be consistent with the Leeds Version as well as the Berlin, Kilkenny, Burghley, Grafton as well as the National Trust (inventory #'s 996328, 290209, 932321) and Royal Collection #403233. When comparing pictures (for quick comparisons) please make note of the angles of the mastiff's white muzzle, the white pleat in James II's right sleeve and there darker threatening clouds.

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