This is a contemporary copy of a group portrait originally painted for Charles I (1600-1649) by Sir Anthony van Dyck in 1637. The original is in the Royal Collection.
The five children of Charles I are shown left to right: Princess Mary (1631-1660), James, Duke of York (1633-1701), Prince Charles (1630-1685), Princess Elizabeth (1635-1650), and, in her sister’s lap, Princess Anne (1636-1640).
Prince Charles, the future Charles II, stands in the centre of the portrait, resting his hand on the head of a large guard dog. The young prince’s hand suggests that he is capable of controlling the large and powerful hound, and, by implication, of ruling his country. By painting Charles’s five children in a collective portrait, van Dyck was illustrating the dynastic security of the Stuart monarchy.