King Charles I

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King Charles I

by Daniel Mytens
oil on canvas, 1631
85 in. x 53 in. (2159 mm x 1346 mm)
Purchased, 1899
Primary Collection
NPG 1246

On display in Room 4 on Floor 3 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

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

Artistback to top

  • Daniel Mytens (circa 1590-1647), Portrait painter. Artist or producer associated with 50 portraits, Sitter in 5 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Portraits, p. 31
  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Cannadine, Sir David (Introduction); Cooper, Tarnya; Stewart, Louise; MacGibbon, Rab; Cox, Paul; Peltz, Lucy; Moorhouse, Paul; Broadley, Rosie; Jascot-Gill, Sabina, Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 7 October 2018 -3 February 2019. Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia, 16 March - 14 July 2019.), p. 139
  • Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 19 Read entry

    In spite of the crown jewels and fine clothes, there is an uncertainty about Charles’s stance that fails to convey authority. The next year Mytens was eclipsed by the arrival of Van Dyck.

  • Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 59 Read entry

    Charles I's royal regalia, opulent surroundings, fine clothes, and a distant view of the sea bounding his island kingdom all contribute to an image of pacific authority.

  • Piper, David, The English Face, 1992, p. 78
  • Piper, David, Catalogue of Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1625-1714, 1963, p. 61
  • Rab MacGibbon, National Portrait Gallery: The Collection, p. 33
  • Ribeiro, Aileen, The Gallery of Fashion, 2000, p. 65
  • Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 84
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 115
  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 78 Read entry

    The younger son of James I and Anne of Denmark, Charles became heir to the throne on the death of his brother Henry in 1612. He was a cultivated man and the greatest of all royal art patrons and collectors. However, Charles’s unshakable belief in the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ made him an inflexible ruler after he acceded to the throne in 1625. He dismissed Parliament in 1629 and ruled alone for eleven years. His imposition of taxes and attempts to impose religious uniformity led eventually to civil war. He was defeated and tried on the charge of ‘traitorously and maliciously’ levying war against his people, and was executed outside the Banqueting House, Whitehall, on 30 January 1649.

    The Dutch artist Daniel Mytens (c.1590–1647) was appointed Picture Drawer to the King in 1625. This full-length portrait was painted early in Charles’s period of personal rule. Mytens imbues the picture with a sense of restrained elegance and self-confidence. Though surrounded by symbols of royal authority – the crown, orb, sceptre and Solomonic column – Charles rests on a stick in an attitude of dignified ease.

  • Williamson, David, Kings and Queens, 2010, p. 114
  • Williamson, David, The National Portrait Gallery: History of the Kings and Queens of England, 1998, p. 112

Events of 1631back to top

Current affairs

Princess Mary Henrietta, the eldest daughter of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, is born at St. James's Palace. She is distinguished as a young girl for her intelligence and beauty.
Poor harvest for second year in a row causes widespread social unrest.

Art and science

Death of poet and clergyman, John Donne, prompts recognition from contemporary writers of his great skill as poet and intellectual. Most of Donne's poems are posthumously published, the first appearing in the anthology, Poems, 1633.
Earl of Bedford commissions architect, Inigo Jones, to design St Paul's Church in Covent Garden.


Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, is made Lord High Treasurer in Ireland; during his tenure of office, he implements successful schemes to strengthen Protestant settlers.
In Venice, the Black Death comes to an end and a service of thanksgiving is held at St Mark's Basilica.

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