Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Painting of the Day: Charles II When Prince of Wales, 1644-1645

Click image for larger size.
Miniature of Watercolor on Vellum
After Dobson, by G.I.
England, 1640
Depicting King Charles II when Prince of Wales
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here’s a lovely miniature portrait of a man showing his head and shoulders. He’s wearing a suit of armor as well as the Collar and Order of the Garter. Since this is a formal portrait, he’s wearing a Greater George insignia. Because he’s been granted the Order of the Garter, we can tell that this is an important man. He is, in fact, the Princes of Wales (later King Charles II). At the time of this painting, he was about fourteen years old.

The miniature is a work of watercolor on vellum after a portrait by William Dobson. All we know about the monogrammist/watercolorist is the fact that his or her initials were G.I. This is one of three miniatures by G.I. which have been identified.

The armor that the Prince is wearing here still survives in the “Armouries” (you may have noticed that I spell English things in the English manner because it seems nicer that way) of the Tower of London. The painting is still set in its original gold locket which was enameled in blue.

This image was important during the English Civil War. King Charles I had been captured, tried and executed as “a public enemy” in 1649 and the Crown fell. During the Civil War years, miniatures such as this one—depicting Royal figures—were worn by those loyal to the monarchy to show their support. By 1660, the monarchy was reinstated and Charles II returned from abroad to reclaim his rightful throne and take up where Charles I left off.

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