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After Anthony van Dyke - Children of Charles I

After Anthony van Dyke (1599-1641), Flemish
The Children of Charles I, undated copy
OIL ON CANVAS,62 x 60 inches
Gift of Horace Fairbanks

Among the reproductions of celebrated masterworks in the Athenaeum's collection, none has the scale of the copy after Anthony van Dyke's Children of Charles I. The work is virtu­ally identical in size to the original painting, effectively conveying the original's grandiosity. The work is celebrated in modern art history for its complex design, nuanced sensitivity to color, and balance of the competing priorities of familial intimacy and official portrait.

Van Dyke's painting (now in the collection of the Galleria Sabauda in Turin, Italy) was created in 1635 as a gift to the Queen of England's sister, Duchess Christina of Savoy, and portrays the Queen's three eldest children, Charles, Mary, and James. The King, Charles I, was reportedly angered by the painting because his children, including his immediate heir, are shown in infants' clothing, rather than more adult costume. When van Dyke revisited the subject for another commission the following year, he made certain that the children's costumes and demeanors were perceptibly older, at the expense of accuracy.