The royal family has been the subject of culturally significant paintings over the span of centuries. The majority of these portraits have been commissioned by the royal family themselves, as well as other artists who have been inspired by them both in the United Kingdom and internationally. From traditional oil paintings to contemporary portraits, the royal family has been captured in a variety of mediums by some of the most renowned artists of their time.
With the recent Coronation of his majesty King Charles III, we’ve chosen to take a look back at the artists who were behind some of the most famous paintings of the royals over the centuries.
Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641)
Sir Anthony Van Dyck was a Flemish Baroque artist who is best known for his portraits of the royal court of Charles I of England. He painted the king and his family on numerous occasions, capturing their regal elegance and beauty as oil on canvas. His most famous portrait of the king is known as the "Triple Portrait," which shows Charles I in three different positions and is currently part of the Royal Collection.
Peter Lely (1618-1680)
Peter Lely was a Dutch painter who spent almost the entirety of his life in the UK and in 1661 was appointed as the principal painter to the court of Charles II. He painted several portraits of the king, as well as of his mistresses and other members of the court with one of his most famous pieces being Nymphs by a Fountain. The nature of his painting style was characterised by a softness and sensuality that was highly fashionable in the Restoration period.
William Hogarth (1697-1764)
William Hogarth was an English painter and printmaker who is best known for his satirical depictions of 18th century life. He painted several portraits of the royal family, including a famous portrait of King George II and his family (known as ‘The Family of George II’), which is now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.
Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)
Thomas Gainsborough was a British portrait and landscape painter who is known for his elegant, refined portraits. He painted several members of the royal family, including King George III and Queen Charlotte. His portrait of the queen, which shows her posing beside a window with a delicate fan in her hand, is one of his most famous works.