Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Charles I and Henrietta Maria Holding a Laurel Wreath, 1632
Oil on canvas
41 × 69 1/4 in. (104 × 176 cm)
Archbishop’s Castle and Gardens, Kroměříž
This double portrait represents a key moment in Van Dyck’s English career. The commission had initially been given to the Dutchman Daniel Mytens, the leading court artist before Van Dyck’s arrival in England, but his painting must not have satisfied his patron, for it was eventually replaced by Van Dyck’s new version. Van Dyck deviates remarkably little from Mytens’s model while improving every aspect of it: the liveliness of the painting, the interaction — at once tender and formal — between the royal pair and between the queen and the viewer, the added interest of the background, and the magnificent harmony of colors. In the year of this triumph, Van Dyck was knighted and appointed "principalle Paynter" of the king while Mytens left England and returned to his native Holland.