after Anthony van Dyck, The Three Eldest Children of Charles I

Photo courtesy of Tom St Aubyn (All rights reserved)


Country House
Raynham Hall
The Three Eldest Children of Charles I
mid-17th–18th century, after 1635 original
The Music Room
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
after Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)
Catalogue Number


This picture is a half-length copy of a portrait of the three eldest children of Charles I – Charles, Mary and baby James – by his Principal Painter Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599–1641). The original full-length triple portrait, now in the Galleria Sabauda in Turin, was painted in 1635 as a present to Queen Henrietta Maria’s sister, Christina, Duchess of Savoy in return for portraits of her children. Charles would have been four and a half, Mary three and James less than eighteen months old. A slightly later full-length portrait of 1636 in the Royal Collection shows the three children standing in a different order, with Charles now ‘breeched’ in doublet and hose and without a cap, James and Mary with aprons over their expensive skirts and two King Charles spaniels (RCIN 404403).

Several copies after the Turin version exist: full-length copies in the Palazzo Reale in Turin, Stanford Hall, Leicestershire, and San Francisco; a three-quarter-length copy at Shrubland Park, Suffolk; and a number of half-length copies, copies of sections, and reduced-size copies such as that in the collection of the Museum of Childhood, London (inv. 1068-1886).1 In this present half-length, the dog and the symbolic roses on the carpet in the Turin original are lost but the apple or quince in James’s hands remains, possibly signifying the fruitfulness of the Stuart monarchy, as exemplified by the trio of royal children. A notable half-length copy of good quality – possibly executed in Van Dyck’s studio – is in the Suffolk Collection at Kenwood House, London (English Heritage, inv. 88019185). Another poor half-length copy from the collection of Mr Fairholme, Bregenz, Austria was sold by Sotheby’s, London, on 10 October 1973 (2), in which James can also be seen holding the fruit.

by Emily Burns


  1. Untraced copies of the Turin picture include those listed by Lionel H. Cust, Anthony van Dyck: An Historical Study of his Life and Works, London: Bell, 1900, p. 266: H. A. J. Munro of Novar and H. Butler-Johnstone in 1880; see (accessed 3 February 2020).


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