James I, 1566-1625

A three-quarter-length portrait of James I facing to the right. He wears a white satin doublet and hose, the latter sewn with pearls. The sword belt is similarly adorned. The doublet has jewelled buttons and the wired collar has a needle-lace edging, the cuffs are also edged with lace. Around his neck is a jewelled collar with the large George of the Garter on it. His right arm rests on a table covered in a red cloth, and he holds a pair of gloves in his hand. His left hand holds the hilt of his sword. Around his shoulders is a dark cloak and he wears a black jewelled hat. In the background a red curtain is swathed behind James, and to the right the artist has included the royal coat of arms. The date '1610' appears above the coat of arms, but this may not denote the date of the painting.

The reign of James I was mainly a period of stagnation for the Navy owing to his policy of appeasement of Spain. De Critz was Serjeant Painter to the King from 1603, and from 1625 to Charles I, until his death in 1642. Part of his brief was the painted decoration of the King's ships, but while such work is recorded in 1603 and 1605, the Surveyor of the Navy appears to have favoured other practitioners which resulted in a legal dispute between them in February 1609. This left evidence that de Critz's sight had become impaired by about 1607, though with a large studio he continued as a successful manager of it and died a prosperous man. However, it does suggest why work attributed to him is of uneven quality, much being by assistants. This portrait is one of his standard versions of James and probably orginally had a pair of his Queen, Anne of Denmark, which is likely to have been similar to BHC2451 as regards the figure of the queen (rather than the differing background).[PvdM amended 6/12]

Object Details

ID: BHC2796
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - QH
Creator: de Critz, John
Date made: circa 1610
People: King James I and VI
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Measurements: Painting: 1042 x 838 mm; Frame: 1217 mm x 1017 mm x 80 mm; Weight: 22 kg;

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