The Pembroke Family Group

 

 

Philip Herbert, fourth Earl of Pembroke commissioned Van Dyck to paint this enormous canvas (c.1635) to commemorate the marriage between his eldest son, Charles, and Mary Villiers, daughter of the murdered favourite of James I and Charles I. The earl’s wife wears a discontented expression, perhaps reflecting an already troubled relationship. Three young Herbert boys who died as children are depicted as angels tossing roses down at the wedding party. Charles Herbert did not live to enjoy his thirteen year old bride: he succumbed to fever in Florence a year later while on his continental tour. Her enormous promised dowry of twenty-five thousand pounds was withdrawn from the Pembrokes. She remarried in 1637 to James Stuart, Duke of Lennox and Richmond, older brother of Lords George, Bernard and John Stuart. While a devoted friend of Richmond, Prince Rupert fell in love with her; given his strong morals and deep sense of personal loyalty, it is doubtful that his passion for her was ever consummated.