In this royal portrait, painted by Anthony van Dyck, King Charles I wears ceremonial armor and a gold chain with a medallion bearing an image of St. George and the dragon. The medallion, known as “lesser George,” was reportedly a valuable possession of the King, and identified him as head of the Order of the Garter, leader of chivalrous knights. Charles not only wears the medallion of knightly sovereignty, but he displays the crown and scepter of kingly sovereignty. The king is depicted in his armor, holding the commander’s baton next to the hilt of his sword and placing his hand on the orb; this overt visual language reminds the viewer of Charles’ many roles—saint, commander, king, knight, warrior—and simultaneously legitimizes his claim to sovereignty.


  • Title: Portrait of Charles I, King of England
  • Creator: Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, 1599 – 1641)
  • Date Created: 1635/1640
  • Physical Location: USC Fisher Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation, 2002.01
  • Physical Dimensions: 123.2 x 99 cm (48 1/2 x 39 in.)
  • Subject Keywords: Portrait
  • Rights: Photography by Brian Forrest
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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