Queen Henrietta Maria is 24 years old in this painting from 1633. Her husband, King Charles I, asked his court painter, Anthony van Dyck, to make this painting to show off her wealth, status and power.
The Queen is dressed to go hunting, with a big black hat (1) with a large feather instead of her crown (2), which is still in the painting on the gold curtain. Her delicate lace collar (3) is very intricate, and would have been painstaking work for someone to make by hand and very expensive to buy. Her shiny blue dress (4) is eye-catching and would have been made from a luxurious fabric.
Sir Jeffrey Hudson (5), to the Queen’s left, was 14 years old in this painting but would go on to become her trusted advisor and a witty member of the Royal Court. He holds Pug the monkey (6), the Queen’s favourite pet. A monkey would have been a very exotic pet to have at the time this was painted!
The Queen liked gardening and you can see an orange tree behind her (7), which in the 17th century would have been an unusual plant to have in England. In Greek mythology, the orange is a symbol of generosity and purity. The presence of an orange tree in this painting suggests that Queen Henrietta Maria was wealthy and generous.
Anthony van Dyck was the court painter for Charles I and was popular because he made his subjects look elegant. Paintings like this took a long time to complete and the Queen wouldn’t have had time to pose for hours and hours. Van Dyck probably had to dress another person in her clothes to finish this portrait.
This painting was in our recent exhibition, Charles I: King and Collector.