Charles I with M. de St Antoine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Van Dyck's first equestrian painting of Charles, Charles I with M. de St Antoine, 1633

Charles I with M. de St Antoine is an oil painting on canvas by the Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck, depicting Charles I on horseback, accompanied by his riding master, Pierre Antoine Bourdon, Seigneur de St Antoine.

Charles I became King of Great Britain and Ireland in 1625 on the death of his father James I, and van Dyck became Charles' Principal Painter in Ordinary in 1632. This portrait is thought to have been painted around 1633, and was the first equestrian portrait of Charles I painted by van Dyck.


Charles is depicted as a chivalrous knight and sovereign. He rides a large and heavily muscled white horse - possibly a Lipizzaner - under a neoclassical triumphal arch, from which fall hangings of green silk. He is clad in parade armour with the blue sash of the Order of the Garter and carries a baton of military command. Charles is depicted almost alone, perhaps alluding to the period of his personal rule without Parliament, and is viewed from below, as in van Dyck's 1635 painting Charles I at the Hunt. To the right stands his riding master, Pierre Antoine Bourdon, Seigneur de St Antoine (with a ribbon around his neck, possibly of the Order of Saint Lazarus) who looks up at the king while holding his helmet.

A large Royal coat of arms of the House of Stuart stands to the lower left of the painting (of four quarters, first and fourth, the fleur de lys of France quartering the three lions of England, second the double tressured lion of Scotland, and third the harp of Ireland), surmounted by a large crown.

The painting measures 368.4 centimetres (145.0 in) by 269.9 centimetres (106.3 in) and may have been intended as a theatrical tromp l'oeil flourish for the end of the King's gallery at St James's Palace. It was included in the auction of the Royal Collection following the execution of Charles I, valued at £150, and sold to "Pope" on 22 December 1652. It was returned to the Royal Collection of Charles II in 1660, and is usually displayed at Windsor Castle.


Van Dyck was influenced by a portrait made by his master, Peter Paul Rubens, of the Duke of Lerma dated 1603, and his own earlier equestrian portraits of Anton Giulio Brignole-Sale, Marquis of Groppoli in 1627 and Francisco de Moncada, 3rd Marquis of Aitona in 1632. Van Dyck went on to paint a dismounted Charles I at the Hunt in c.1635, and then a second Equestrian Portrait of Charles I in c.1637–38.

Van Dyck painted different versions of this portrait. One of them is a 1635 copy in the collection of the Earl of Carnarvon, which can be seen in the The State Dining Room of Highclere Castle, prominently featured in the television period drama Downton Abbey. In this room there are other paintings by van Dyck.