King Charles II in Boscobel Wood

1 portrait by Isaac Fuller

King Charles II in Boscobel Wood, by Isaac Fuller, 1660s? - NPG 5248 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

King Charles II in Boscobel Wood

by Isaac Fuller
oil on canvas, 1660s?
84 1/8 in. x 74 in. (2137 mm x 1880 mm)
Purchased, 1979
Primary Collection
NPG 5248

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  • Isaac Fuller (1606-1672), Painter. Artist associated with 12 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

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The second of a set of five scenes that commemorate Charles II's dramatic escape from Parliamentarian forces following his defeat in the final battle of the civil wars. King Charles I was executed in 1649 and two years later his son Charles returned from exile in an attempt to regain the throne. He rallied his supporters at Worcester but on 3 September 1651 the royalists were decisively defeated by Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army. For the next six weeks the fugitive evaded Parliamentarian forces by travelling in disguise between a succession of safe houses. A reward of £1000 was offered for his capture and anyone caught helping him faced execution. With the aid of a network of royalist supporters, he finally sailed for France on 15 October. Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660 and the story of his daring escape nine years earlier became a cornerstone of Royal propaganda. Episodes such as the king taking refuge in the 'Royal Oak' passed into popular culture through written accounts, plays and prints. However, the scale and ambition of Isaac Fuller's painted treatment of the narrative is unique.

This scene depicts an event on 6 September when Charles II was escorted by the Penderels to nearby Boscobel Wood, where he met Colonel William Careless. Careless had fought at the Battle of Worcester and was also a fugitive from Parliamentarian forces. It is notable that Charles II is not shown as the 21-year-old he was in 1651 but as the mature king following the Restoration.

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