King Charles II

1 portrait

King Charles II, by John Michael Wright, circa 1660-1665 - NPG 531 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

King Charles II

by John Michael Wright
oil on canvas, circa 1660-1665
49 3/4 in. x 39 3/4 in. (1264 mm x 1010 mm)
Transferred from British Museum, 1879
Primary Collection
NPG 531


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Sitterback to top

  • King Charles II (1630-1685), Reigned 1660-85. Sitter associated with 294 portraits.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

This portrait of the king in garter robes shows him as he appeared to his subjects at the Restoration, a tall and imposing man in his thirties; in old age Charles's features would show the ravages of personal indulgence. The portrait is in an exceptional frame of the 1680s or 1690s in an idiom associated with Sir Christopher Wren's woodcarvers. It has cherubs on either side of a shell at the top, more cherubs on the sides and at the bottom, swags of fruit and festoons on ribbons at the top and sides, and additional swags at the bottom.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Gibson, Robin, Treasures from the National Portrait Gallery, 1996, p. 43
  • Hart-Davis, Adam, Chain Reactions, 2000, p. 22
  • Ollard, Richard, Character Sketches: Samuel Pepys and His Circle, 2000, p. 29
  • Ollard, Richard, Pepys and his Contemporaries, 2015, p. 40
  • Perry, Gill (introduction) Roach, Joseph (appreciation) and West, Shearer (appreciation), The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 2011 to 8 January 2012), p. 72
  • Piper, David, The English Face, 1992, p. 103
  • Piper, David, Catalogue of Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1625-1714, 1963, p. 67
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 116
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 14
  • Williamson, David, The National Portrait Gallery: History of the Kings and Queens of England, 1998, p. 117
  • Williamson, David, Kings and Queens, 2010, p. 115

Events of 1660back to top

Current affairs

The Convention Parliament and Lords proclaim Charles II king after he issues a declaration from Breda offering an indemnity to those who had committed crimes against the crown during the civil war and Interregnum. Charles lands at Dover from The Hague on 25th May to great pomp and ceremony.

Art and science

Diarist Samuel Pepys starts his diary on 1st January, writing in shorthand. The diary became a unique social document, opening with a brief summary of his domestic situation and the political background. Dutch portrait painter, Peter Lely, is appointed principle painter to Charles II. Official foundation of the Royal Society.

International

The Anglo-Spanish War, begun by Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, formally ends after the restoration of the British monarchy and peace is made with Philip IV of Spain.

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