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King Charles I with the Arms of Nobility

Artist

Scottish School,18th century

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King Charles I with the Arms of Nobility

Artist

Scottish School,18th century

Guide Price: £6,500

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Oil on canvas; held in an 18th century carved and gilded frame;
entire 44 by 44 in; 112 x 112 cm

Provenance: Alexander Duff, 1st Duke of Fife (1849-1912); Sir Derrick & Lady Gunston; Paul Mitchell, art dealers; Private Collection, England

With thanks to David White, Somerset Herald, College of Arms for his assistance in the cataloguing of this painting

This very unusual and intriguing portrait depicts King Charles I surrounded by a succession of armorial bearings including those members of the nobility loyal to his cause. In this it reflects certain known engravings which are similarly composed with a central oval portrait of the King encircled by smaller images of nobles adherent to the crown. The King in most of these is modelled on the famous images by Van Dyck, but in this painting the portrait of the monarch appears to be freely created and not noticeably derivative.

Some of the arms depicted include those of the Order of the Garter; The Stuart Royal Arms; Philip Herbert 4th Earl of Pembroke; James Stuart, Duke of Lennox later Duke of Richmond; George Hay, 2nd Earl of Kinnoull; Dudley North 3rd Baron North; George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury. A full description of all armorial bearings with descriptions compiled by the College of Arms is available.

By the mid eighteenth century, a hundred years after the civil war, images of prominent individuals from both the royalist and parliamentarian causes were once more being openly admired and celebrated. The trade in mezzotint portraits alone of both Cromwell and Charles rose to a high point during this period. It is probably around this time that this painting was created for the Earls Fife, later descending to Alexander Duff, 1st Duke of Fife. In 1907 due to financial necessity he sold many old master paintings, including this, and the family seat Duff House. Later it was in the collection of Sir Derrick Gunston and his wife Evelyn Bligh St. George, the granddaughter of wealthy New York banker, George Fisher Baker and herself the sitter for a multitude of commissioned portraits by the likes of Sir William Orpen and John Singer Sargent.