by William Sheppard
oil on canvas, 1650
49 in. x 38 in. (1245 mm x 965 mm)
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Sitterback to top
- Thomas Killigrew (1612-1683), Dramatist and courtier. Sitter associated with 15 portraits.
Artistback to top
- William Sheppard (active 1641-1660), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 14 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Witty, dissolute and eccentric, the playwright and theatre manager Killigrew was one of the most colourful figures of his time. It is not surprising that this portrait, painted by the obscure artist Sheppard, should be a striking affair. It was painted just a year after the execution of Charles I, when Killigrew was in Venice as the political agent of the exiled Charles II, and is conceived as an allegory of loyalty to the Royalist cause. Charles I's portrait hangs on the wall behind him, while a pile of Killigrew's plays rests on top of a copy of Eikon Basilike, ('The Image of the King'), a meditation on Charles's martyrdom. Killigrew's dog wears his master's name on his collar and is likely to have been included as a symbol of fidelity.