In this video, Christie’s Old Masters specialist Jonquil O’Reilly traces the incredible story of ‘Portrait of Princess Mary, Daughter of King Charles I of England’, one of Anthony van Dyck’s most famous works. Princess Mary was married at the age of 9 as an international relations move intended to sure-up Anglo-Dutch relations. This work is significant because it showcases not only Van Dyck’s position as a royal court painter, but also his canny knack for capturing children on canvas, something many other artists struggled with.

Van Dyck was appointed ‘Principal Painter in Ordinary to their Majesties’ by King Charles I in London, having both the skills and the taste desired by the king. From the fashion featured in the portrait to the new techniques and symbolism used, this video shows why the painter left such a mark on the English court — and art history. You can see the whole thing here:

When placed in a gallery or museum, it’s easy for one painting to blur into the next — no matter how stunning or intricate it may be. Seeing someone delve into the rich history of a single work is such a treat, giving us a rare insight into not only its historical context but its context within the artist’s life.