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Prince Charles Louis, Count Palatine
Studio of Anthony van Dyck
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Prince Charles Louis, Count Palatine, was the second son of Frederick V, Elector Palatine and briefly King of Bohemia. His elder brother Henry had died young, and although Charles Louis was now heir to the Palatinate, his father had been deposed and the family were living in exile in the Netherlands. His mother, Elizabeth Stuart, was the sister of Charles I, King of England. She arranged for Charles Louis to visit his uncle with a view to raising funds to enable him to regain the Palatinate, and this portrait is likely to have been painted during his extended stay in London.

During the English Civil War, Charles Louis’s sympathies were with Parliament, although he never fought on their behalf, as his brothers did for the King. Later, he returned to the Palatinate, which had been laid waste during the Thirty Years' War. He spent the rest of his life restoring his German territories as Elector.

Key facts
Artist Studio of Anthony van Dyck
Artist dates 1599 - 1641
Full title Prince Charles Louis, Count Palatine
Series The Brothers: Princes Rupert and Charles Louis
Date made about 1637
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 213.7 x 132.4 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Cornelia, Countess of Craven, 1965
Inventory number NG6364
Location in Gallery Room 20
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The Brothers: Princes Rupert and Charles Louis

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The portraits of these two princes are often displayed in the National Gallery on either side of one of their mother, Elizabeth Stuart, who was the sister of King Charles I of England. The three pictures may well have been shown together in this way since the seventeenth century, and are a testament to the importance of continuity of power to a royal dynasty.

Elizabeth was married to Frederick V, Elector Palatine. After dynastic squabbles involving almost the whole of Europe, they were deposed in 1620 and went into exile. When Frederick died in 1632 Elizabeth sent her three eldest sons to the court of Charles I, to strengthen the family ties and to gain support for their cause. Her eldest surviving son, the heir to the Electoral Palatinate, was Charles Louis; her second son was Rupert, known as Prince Rupert of the Rhine. It was while they were in England that their portraits were painted.

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