- Museum number
Portrait of Charles I, sculpted bust on a pedestal. c.1636
- Production date
Height: 495 millimetres
Width: 325 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Text from Antony Griffiths, 'The Print in Stuart Britain', BM 1998, cat.43)
This unfinished working proof is the only impression that is known of the most ambitious engraving ever made of Charles I. Much confusion has been caused because it has traditionally been identified as being after the bust by Bernini that was destroyed in the Whitehall fire of 1698. This had been commissioned by Charles I who sent to Rome the triple portrait by van Dyck of 1635-6 (now in the Royal collection) for Bernini to work from. The bust was delivered to England in July 1637, the year after Voerst's death. This made the traditional attribution of this print to Voerst impossible.
The problem has been solved by the recent realisation that Bernini's portrait was quite different, and that this print is after another marble bust by François Dieussart (see M.Vickers, Apollo, CVII 1978, pp.161-9 and G.Raatschen, Burlington Magazine, CXXXVIII 1996, pp.813-6). Dieussart was a Fleming who worked in many northern European courts before arriving in England in 1636 (for an account of his career, see C.Avery in Victoria and Albert Museum Yearbook, IV 1974, pp.63-99). An early copy of the bust of Charles that Voerst engraved is now at Windsor Castle, while a different (but autograph) bust of Charles wearing armour dated 1636 is now at Arundel Castle.
The attribution of this print to Voerst seems sure. Stylistically it belongs to the first half of the seventeenth century; it is printed on paper of that period; and there was no-one else in England in the 1630s capable of engraving to this standard. If it is indeed by Voerst, the marble must have been made early in the year, and the plate was in the course of engraving when Voerst suddenly fell a victim to the plague. Whether it was commissioned by Charles or whether it was made by Voerst on his own account is unknown.
(later supplement) The identification of the bust with that by Dieussart is not in fact at all certain, and it may well be after the Bernini bust (information from Jonathan Marsden). In this case it cannot have been engraved by Voerst, who had died before the bust reached London. The alternative possibility is John Payne. (AVG)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1991 July-Sep, Edinburgh, NG of Scotland, Virtue and Vision...
2009 Apr-Aug BM, P&D, Room 90, British Printed Images to 1700
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number