Robert van Voerst, Portrait bust of Charles I, an engraving

England, around AD 1636

After a sculpted bust by François Dieussart

This large engraving, which reproduces a sculpted bust of Charles I (reigned 1625-49), is an unfinished proof print of work in progress. The plate is unworked on the king's right shoulder, on a ribbon round his neck and on the medallion that should hang from it. At the bottom of the plate, the panel lacks its inscription. However the engraving captures the spirit of the bust, casting a shadow in its narrow niche.

The plate is attributed to van Voerst (1597-1636), who arrived in London in 1627 after training as an engraver in Utrecht. His early success in engraving painted portraits reached a peak in 1634, when he engraved van Dyck's magnificent double portrait of Charles I and Henrietta Maria (now in the Czech Republic). Van Dyck indicated his admiration of the engraving by including a portrait of van Voerst among those in his series of portraits, the Iconography, as well as by commissioning him to engrave a number of its plates.

The sculptor Dieussart arrived in London in 1636. An early copy of the bust reproduced here survives in Windsor Castle. All we know about the print comes from this unsigned and undated impression. Van Voerst was the only printmaker then working in England, who engraved plates of this quality. An earlier portrait engraving of Shakespeare serves as a comparison for the style (see link).

Van Voerst died of the plague shortly before October 1636, which presumably explains the print's unfinished state.

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More information


A. Griffiths, The print in Stuart Britain, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)


Height: 495.000 mm
Width: 325.000 mm

Museum number

PD P2-11



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