Anthony van Dyck was commissioned by the King to produce multiple portraits of his family, featuring them in different poses and combinations over a number of years. The Queen was 24 when this painting was completed and looks very much the regal figure in her stunning blue outfit which the artist delicately touches with a sprinkling of light.
An additional Van Dyck portrait of the Queen can be found here. She was considered a beautiful woman in her own right and so the artist was able to honestly capture her facial features without fear of upsetting either of the monarchs.
This playful portrait has an endearing, personal quality thanks to the inclusion of the young boy with his pet monkey. The boy in question was Sir Jeffrey Hudson. The inclusion of an orange tree represents her genuine love of gardening although it is unclear just how dirty the queen would get her hands. The monkey was there to remind us of her impressive collection of animals, some of which were particularly exotic for that period.
These portraits were not only for the family's burgeoning collection, but also sometimes given as gifts to others. This would explain how Van Dyck's work in England would become as dispersed as it did. Recipients included loyal courtiers, ambassadors and also foreign rulers as a means to negotiation and building relationships.
This painting is owned by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, USA. Their permanent collection is highly impressive, but always check ahead if there is a specific item that you want to view. Related artists featured in this gallery include Jan van Eyck, Andrea Mantegna, Leonardo da Vinci, Giovanni Bellini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.