King Charles II
King Charles II
studio of Sir Anthony van Dyck
oil on canvas, circa 1638
59 1/4 in. x 51 1/2 in. (1505 mm x 1307 mm)
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Sitterback to top
- King Charles II (1630-1685), Reigned 1660-85. Sitter associated with 295 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Painter. Artist associated with 1024 portraits, Sitter associated with 31 portraits.
This portraitback to top
The eldest son of Charles I and 'bred to a wonderful civility' according to his mother's wishes, Charles reacted bravely to the outbreak of civil war. He first saw service at Edgehill aged twelve. When advised to retreat he cried 'I fear them not', flourished his pistol and had to be restrained from charging. Charles campaigned until he was sent abroad for his safety in 1646 and five years later made a daring invasion of England which ended in disaster at the Battle of Worcester. The image of him as a boy soldier was, it seems, a potent piece of Royalist propaganda. Another portrait made about this time by Cornelius Johnson (or Jonson) shows him in a similar pose, but not in armour, with a view of a military encampment behind him.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 116
Events of 1638back to top
Current affairsAmid turmoil in Scotland against Charles I's attempt to impose an episcopalian system of church government and Book of Common Prayer, theologian Alexander Henderson and politician Archibald Johnston of Wariston, defiantly draw up a new national covenant, whereby its signatories reaffirm their Presbyterian discipline.
Art and sciencePolitical agitator, John Lilburne, is imprisoned for distributing unlicensed satirical pamphlets against episcopacy.
Luminalia by dramatist Sir William Davenant, is performed by Queen Henrietta Maria and her Ladies-in-Waiting. With designs by Inigo Jones, it was one of the last and most spectacular masques staged at the Stuart Court.
InternationalLord High Chancellor Oxenstierna, head of the regency council ruling Sweden until the young Queen Kristina came of age, agrees the Treaty of Hamburg, renewing Sweden's alliance with France. Under its terms, in exchange for financial assistance from France, Sweden continued its military contribution in the Thirty years' War.
See this portrait
On display at Queen's House, London
Exhibitions and displays
- Lunchtime Lecture: White King: the tragedy of Charles I
18 January 2018, 13:15
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Help us conserve a portrait of a female adventurer, poet and medical pioneer