SIR Anthony van dyck
(Antwerp 1599 – London 1641) 


Charles II as prince of wales 


oil on canvas
158.8 x 109.2 cm. (62.5 x 43 in.)

“If Holbein […] recorded the court of Henry VIII, then van Dyck might be said to have invented the court of Charles I […].”

Walter A. Liedtke, “Anthony van Dyck”, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 1984-85, p. 45.

Sir Anthony van Dyck was born in Antwerp in 1599 and together with Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) he was one of the most prominent Flemish Baroque painters of the 17th century. At the age of 10, he was an apprentice of Hendrick van Balen (1575-1632) and soon came under the influence of Rubens, who after 1608 assumed undisputed leadership of art in Antwerp. At the age of 17, van Dyck had already established his own workshop, was in high demand as a portrait painter, created his own independent religious and mythological scenes and was active as Rubens’ most important assistant.1



Van Dyck travelled around Europe to work for the most important patrons. He made his first trip to England in 1620 to work for King James I (1566-1625), and after a quick visit to Antwerp, he set out for Italy. Genoa was his first stop and would be his base for the next years, where he was employed by the same aristocratic families Rubens had worked for 14 years earlier.2 During his time in Italy, van Dyck was influenced by Venetian masters, above all by Titian (1490-1576), whose impact became apparent in van Dyck’s more colouristic and expressively refined works of this period. In 1627, he returned to Antwerp where he stayed until 1632. During this period, he received commissions for altarpieces and portraits and he also made small monochrome portraits of fellow artists, art patrons, princes, soldiers and scholars, which were engraved and published as van Dyck’s Iconography in 1645-46.


Van Dyck returned to England as court painter to King Charles I (1600-1649) in 1632, who knighted him that year.3 In 1634, van Dyck returned to Antwerp for a year, where he received the title of ‘honorary dean’ by the Antwerp guild of artists, a title that was only given once before to Rubens.4 Back in London he almost exclusively painted portraits, which shaped the visual image of English society of that time, the essence of which, elegance and grandeur, is beautifully illustrated here by this portrait of Charles II (1630-1685). This portrait was among the last painted for King Charles I, since van Dyck died in London at the end of the same year, in 1641.5


1. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., Flemish Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. (Washington, D.C.: The National Gallery, 2005), 20-21.
2. Julius S. Held, “Anthony van Dyck,” accessed June 23, 2020,
3. Wheelock, Flemish Paintings of the Seventeenth Century, 20-21.
4. Held, “Anthony van Dyck.”
5. S.J. Barnes, N. de Poorter, O. Millar and H. Vey, Van Dyck. A complete catalogue of the paintings (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004), 485.


Likely commissioned by King Charles I (1600-1649), before 9 August 1641, when the Prince was carried by barge from Lambeth to Van Dyck’s Whitehall studio;
probably Sir Horatio Townshend, 3rd Bt. and later 1st Viscount Townshend (1630-1687), Raynham Hall, Norfolk;
thence by descent to Field Marshall George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend (1724-1807), Raynham Hall, Norfolk;
by descent to his son George Townshend, 2nd Marquess Townshend (1753-1811), Raynham Hall, Norfolk;
by descent to John Stuart Townshend, 6th Marquess Townshend (1866-1921), Raynham Hall, Norfolk;
His sale [“Catalogue of the Townshend Heirlooms”]; Christie’s, London, 7 March 1904, lot 191 (as “D. Mytens”) 460 guineas to Agnews;
with Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd., London;
from whom acquired by Robert (1850-1929) and Evelyn Benson (1856-1943);
by whom given to their daughter;
thence by inheritance;
anonymous sale [Property from an English Private Collection]; Sotheby’s, London, 5 December 2018, lot 29;
The Klesch Collection.

London, Royal Academy, “Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters and Deceased Masters of the British School, Winter Exhibition”, 1910, cat. no. 126, lent by R.H. Benson Esq.
London, Royal Academy, “British Portraits, Winter Exhibition”, 1956 – 57, cat. no. 79 (as “attributed to Sir Anthony van Dyck”).
London, Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd., “Sir Anthony van Dyck”, 7 November – 7 December 1968, no. 61.
London, National Portrait Gallery, “Van Dyck in England”, 1982, no. 63.

“A Catalog of pictures at Raynham Hall”, Ms. 177[?], Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, Mss file 28.
Inventory of Pictures belonging to the Most Noble Marquis of Townshend and Leicester at Raynham Hall, 1810: “A pair of Whole Length Portraits of Chas. II and his Sister, by Mytens. £21.0.0.”.
The Collection of Pictures at Raynham Hall, compiled with historical notes by James Durham, privately printed 1926, pp. 6, 26.
Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, Portraits in Norfolk Houses, Norwich, n.d., vol. II, p. 200.
E. Larsen, L’opera completa di Anton van Dyck, Milan, 1980, p. 127, cat. no. 978.
E. Larsen, The Paintings of Anthony van Dyck, Freren, 1988, vol. II, p. 316, cat. no. 800, reproduced.
K.M. Gibson, “‘Best Belov’d of Kings’. The iconography of King Charles II”, D. Phil. diss., London, 1997, vol. I, pp. 21–22, vol. II p. 279, cat. no. 161, reproduced vol. III, fig. 23.
S.J. Barnes, N. de Poorter, O. Millar and H. Vey, Van Dyck. A complete catalogue of the paintings, New Haven and London, 2004, p. 484, cat. no. IV.68, reproduced.
A. Busiakiewicz, “Armour in the British Portraits of Sir Anthony van Dyck”, MA diss., London, 2014, p. 45, reproduced fig. 51.

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