Anthony van Dyck, 1599-1641
Mary Villiers, Lady Herbert of Shurland, ca. 1636
Oil on canvas, 101 x 83.8 cm (42 x 33 in.)
This portrait was painted at the request of King Charles I of England, in whose collection it once hung. Lady Mary Viillers (1622-1685), the daughter of George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, was one of the most intriguing individuals connected with the English court. She was raised in the royal household after her father was assassinated in 1628. At age fourteen, when this portrait was painted, she was already a widow of fifteen-year-old Charles, Lord Herbert of Shurland, who died of smallpox in 1636. The wedding had been arranged by the King to unite his court and country supporters. The intimacy of this portrait is remarkable due, perhaps, to the special rapport the artist had with his young sitter, whom he had known since at least 1633, and whose portrait he painted on several occassions.
King Charles I (1600–1649) 
Possibly a gift of the king to Lady Mary Villiers (1622–1685) 
By inheritance to George Legge (1648–1691), 1st baron Dartmouth
William Legge (1730–1801), 2nd earl of Dartmouth, Sandwell Hall, Staffordshire
William Legge (1881–1958), 7th earl of Dartmouth, Patshull Park, Staffordshire
By descent to Lady Elizabeth Basset née Legge (1908–2000)
Phillips, London, July 10, 2001, lot 123
Historical Portraits, London
Acquired by the Putnam Foundation, 2005
 van Dyck, who was court painter for King Charles I and his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, apparently executed this portrait of Lady Mary at the request of the king, in whose collection the portrait once hung. On the verso of the canvas are stamped the letters CR surmounted by a crown. This cipher was placed only on paintings in Charles I’s personal art collection, on the authority of Abraham van der Doort, keeper of the king’s pictures. This mark was discovered in 2002, when an old lining was removed during the painting’s conservation. The conservation treatment was undertaken after the painting had been acquired by the art gallery Historical Portraits, London. This portrait is probably the painting referred to in Abraham van der Doort’s catalogue of the collections of Charles I as “A Peece of the Dutchesse of Lenox before shee was married By Sr Anthony Vandike.”
 Since this portrait was not in the royal collection at the time of the king’s death in 1649, the probability is strong that Charles I presented it to Lady Mary, perhaps replacing it with another work by van Dyck at the time of her subsequent marriage to James Stuart in 1637.