Van Dyck and Britain: explore the exhibition, room 7

Van Dyck and Britain exhibition banner

Van Dyck’s Impact during the Seventeenth Century

Van Dyck died in 1641. The political situation was deteriorating, and the following year Charles I was forced to escape from Parliamentarian-controlled London and set up a court in exile in Oxford. After years of civil wars, Charles I was executed in 1649, and England was then ruled by the Protector, Oliver Cromwell. After his death the Stuart monarchy was restored in 1660 under Charles’s son, Charles II.

The visual language established by van Dyck for Charles I was adopted by future leaders and artists – as in Robert Walker’s portrait of Cromwell, painted in the manner of van Dyck’s portrait of Wentworth, Charles I’s leading minister.

Dutch artist Peter Lely, who worked for Parliamentarians during the 1650s, was appointed official painter to Charles II, and was commissioned by many of van Dyck’s aristocratic patrons or their heirs. His female portraits convey a deeper sensuality that reflects the laxity of Charles II’s court after the morality of Charles I or the Puritanism of Cromwell. Lely aspired to van Dyck’s status of artist as courtier and, like him, was granted a knighthood.

The revolution in politics did not lead to a revolution in painting. To a large degree, the painterly revolution had preceded it in the work of van Dyck.

Works in this room

William Dobson
Endymion Porter circa 1642–5
Oil on canvas 1499 x 1270 mm
Purchased 1888

John Hayls
Portrait of a Lady and a Boy, with Pan 1655–9
Oil on canvas 1730 x 1600 mm
Presented by the Patrons of British Art through the Tate Gallery Foundation 1995

Robert Walker
Oliver Cromwell 1649
Oil on canvas 1277 x 1029 mm
Leeds Museums & Galleries (Temple Newsam House)

Samuel Cooper
Hugh May 1653
Vellum laid on card with a gessoed back 67 x 53 mm
Her Majesty The Queen (The Royal Collection Trust)

John Michael Wright
Col. The Hon. John Russell 1659
Oil on canvas 1289 x 1073 mm
Ham House, The Dysart Collection (purchased by H.M. Government in 1948 and transfered to The National Trust in 2002)

Peter Lely
Arabella Bankes, Mrs Gilly c.1660
Oil on canvas 1270 x 1030 mm
Kingston Lacy, The Bankes Collection (The National Trust)

Pierre Lombart, Anthony van Dyck, Robert Walker
Oliver Cromwell on Horseback, with a page – 1st state 1655
Engraving 549 x 353 mm
Nicholas Stogdon

Pierre Lombart, Anthony van Dyck
Oliver Cromwell on Horseback, converted to Charles I on Horseback with a page – 6th state 1655 and after
Engraving 551 x 351 mm
Nicholas Stogdon

Peter Lely
Self portrait with Hugh May c.1675–6
Oil on canvas 1435 x 1822 mm
The private collection of Lord Braybrooke, on display at Audley End House, Essex

Richard Gaywood, after Wenceslaus Hollar after Anthony Van Dyck
Nell Gwyn c.1662–72
Etching 242 x 168 mm
Her Majesty The Queen (The Royal Collection Trust)

Peter Lely
Mary of Modena 1673–80
Oil on canvas 1264 x 1029 mm
English Heritage, Kenwood, London

British School 17th century, after Anthony van Dyck
Elizabeth Howard, Countess of Peterborough
Oil on panel 381 x 305 mm
Private collection, England

A list of Peter Lely’s collection of paintings sold 18 April 1682 1682
303 x 185 mm
Wiltshire and Swindon Archives