King Charles I

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King Charles I

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1616
79 in. x 45 1/2 in. (2007 mm x 1156 mm)
Purchased, 1897
Primary Collection
NPG 1112

Sitterback to top

  • King Charles I (1600-1649), Reigned 1625-49. Sitter associated with 335 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Unknown artist, Artist. Artist or producer associated with 6578 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This portrait was once thought to be by the Flemish artist Abraham van Blyenberch but this attribution has been rejected following analysis by the Gallery's Making Art in Tudor Britain research project.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 53 Read entry

    The second son of James VI and Anne of Denmark, Charles became heir to the throne following Prince Henry’s sudden death in 1612. Where Henry had been raised since infancy to be a future king and had travelled to England with his mother in 1603, Charles had been left behind in Scotland until the summer of 1604, learning to overcome a speech impediment and walking impairment that was probably caused by rickets. Charles adored his older brother and inherited his passion for art, ultimately assembling the greatest of all British royal collections. However, his reign ended in the political and religious chaos of the English Civil War, which had been caused in part by his imposition of unpopular taxes and religious uniformity, and personal rule at the expense of Parliament. This portrait was probably painted around 1616 when the sixteen-year-old Charles was created Prince of Wales. As with a number of portraits of Charles as a young man, it was previously thought to depict his brother Henry, whose own portrait as Prince of Wales likely informed the composition of this image. Robert Peake the Elder was working for Charles at this date and was paid £35 for portraits of the prince in 1616; however, this painting is in a very different style and was probably painted by a Netherlandish artist.

  • MacLeod, Catherine, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection at Montacute House, 1999, p. 31
  • Piper, David, The English Face, 1992, p. 78
  • Piper, David, Catalogue of Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1625-1714, 1963, p. 60
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 115

Events of 1616back to top

Current affairs

Playwright, William Shakespeare, dies in Stratford-Upon-Avon on 23rd April, after he contracted a fever. He is buried days later inside Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.
James I's second son, Charles, is invested as Prince of Wales at a lavish ceremony at Whitehall.

Art and science

Poet and playwright Benjamin Jonson, is granted a royal pension effectively establishing him as the first poet laureate in all but name.
Queen Anne commissions Inigo Jones to design a pavilion at Greenwich, the Queen's House.


Sir Walter Ralegh, released from prison, begins planning an expedition to Guiana in search of El Dorado. With established Spanish settlements in the area, Ralegh's expedition unsettled the court which sought lasting peace with Spain.
The Catholic Church places Nicolaus Copernicus's De revolutionibus, 1543, on its list of prohibited books.

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