Anthony Van Dyck he painted many portraits of King Charles I and his courtiers. The most famous of them is probably Charles I of England in three positions, a triple portrait that shows the king from the front, in the right profile and three-quarters of the left profile.
In principle, the purpose of this portrait was to make it easier for Bernini, who had been commissioned to have a bust of the king, to access his features without his presence. So, Charles I commissioned his favorite painter, Van Dyck, to create a portrait of himself shown from various angles to help the sculptor in his task. In each of the portraits, the king wears a different silk robe to offer Bernini different textural options, as well as delicate lace necklaces and a blue Order of the King ribbon.
Bernini decided that the ornaments worn by the king only made a mockery of him., so the bust (which ended in 1636) improved the qualities of Charles I but kept the ribbon and brooch of the Order of the King, to the point of obtaining great approval from the king and queen.
But what happened to the famous ribbon of the Order of King Charles after his execution? We know that one of the king's insignia went to the bishop of London just before he was beheaded, but the Parliament confiscated and sold all the properties of Carlos I to pay off creditors, so ownership histories are a bit confusing.
However, in 1949, Queen Mary (grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II), received a first edition of Eikon Basilike: The Portraicture of His Sacred Majestie in His Solitudes and Sufferings. This book was published just ten days after the execution of King Charles in 1649 and is supposedly made up of the king's reflections, hardships, enemies, and faith. The Queen Mary copy had four pieces of blue silk ribbon attached to the binding. An inscription on the front of the book confirmed that it was the remains of the band of the Order of King Charles.
When the curators of the Royal Collection Trust They selected the Van Dyck with the triple portrait to present in an upcoming exhibition, they decided to take a closer look at the tapes in the book in the remote hope that they might be the ones depicted in the painting. Radiocarbon examinations on a piece of tape found that it came from between the years 1631 and 1670. It is also the same width and length as the band of the Order of King Charles.
At the moment we don't know for sure if it's the real bandbut it certainly could be. The book and ribbon will be displayed alongside the painting, as well as one of the king's lace collars, to accompany the image of the monarch with tangible objects.
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