The dynasty was founded by Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and James I was the first Stuart monarch (Jacobean). But the term ‘Stuart’ is usually used in relation to the reigns of Charles I (reigned 1625–49) and Charles II (reigned 1660 –1685).
Charles I was the greatest collector and patron of the arts in the history of the British monarchy. He brought Peter Paul Rubens (Baroque) to London and then his great pupil and rival Sir Anthony Van Dyck, who was court painter from 1632 to his death in 1641, the year of the outbreak of the Civil War. During the war Van Dyck was succeeded as court painter to Charles by William Dobson whose Endymion Porter is perhaps the greatest English Baroque portrait.
The court of Charles II (reigned 1660–85) was notorious for its pleasure-loving sensuality which was perfectly served by court painter Sir Peter Lely. In Lely’s Windsor Beauties, for example (now at Hampton Court), ten of the most voluptuous ladies of Charles’s court are grouped around a portrait of the King himself.