A Young Marriage Portrait: Anthony van Dyck’s "Portrait of Princess Mary"

 

Christie's Old Masters specialist Jonquil O’Reilly illuminates the story behind Anthony van Dyck’s sumptuous Portrait of Princess Mary, Daughter of King Charles I of England, who was married at the age of 9 to cement Anglo-Dutch relations.

The rare work, which comes from an eminent private collection and has distinguished royal provenance, highlights not only Van Dyck’s significance as a royal court painter, but also his skill as a portraitist of children.

In 1632, Van Dyck—by then well-reputed for his spectacular portraits of many of the most important noble dynasties of Europe—was appointed ‘Principal Painter in Ordinary to their Majesties’ by King Charles I in London.

A passionate collector and patron, Charles had long hoped to attract a painter of such status to his service, and found in Van Dyck an artist not only capable of fulfilling his desire for magnificent portraits, but also one who shared his tastes, especially for Venetian pictures.