The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

The Gunpowder Plot Conspirators, 1605

© National Portrait Gallery, London

  • Buy a print
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

The Gunpowder Plot Conspirators, 1605

by Crispijn de Passe the Elder
engraving, circa 1605
7 7/8 in. x 8 1/8 in. (200 mm x 206 mm)
Given by H.M. Stationery Office, 1871
Primary Collection
NPG 334a

On display in rooms at Beningbrough Hall

Artistback to top

Sittersback to top

This portraitback to top

This print includes the only contemporary portrait of Guy Fawkes and other members of the plot to destroy the Houses of Parliament in 1605. The names of the conspirators are inscribed in Latin above their portraits. The text below describes the events of the plot and the fate of the conspirators. It is written in Latin, French and German, which indicates the international audience for this image.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 102 Read entry

    The Powder Treason or Gunpowder Plot was an attempted coup by desperate Catholics whose hopes of religious toleration under James I's rule had proved illusory. Gunpowder was set in the cellars of the House of Lords on the night before the state opening of parliament on 5 November 1605; the man arrested in charge of the gunpowder gave his name as John Johnson but was soon identified as Guy or Guido Fawkes, a thirty-two year old from York. Robert Catesby, a Warwickshire landowner, was the ringleader of the plot, which was exposed after a letter was sent to a Catholic nobleman, William Parker, 5th Baron Monteagle, warning him not to attend the opening of parliament. The conspirators were rounded up and executed following show trials, and the story was instantly propagandised in pamphlets and ballads. This print is the only contemporary image of the conspirators, who are identified in the inscriptions above their images; however, only eight of the thirteen are depicted, and the similarity of the likenesses indicates that they are probably not true portraits. The text beneath the images describes the events of the plot and the fate of the conspirators. Crispijn de Passe the Elder was born and trained in Antwerp, and although he created engravings for the English market, he is not known to have travelled to England; the text is in Latin, French and German, which indicates that the print was intended for an international audience.

  • Charles Nicholl, Shakespeare and his Contemporaries, 2015, p. 23
  • Nicholl, Charles, Insights: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, 2005, p. 20
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 704

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1605back to top

Current affairs

The Gunpowder Plot is foiled when Guy Fawkes is discovered with barrels of gunpowder under the House of Lords. The coup, to blow up the House at the State Opening of Parliament, thereby assassinating James I, was conceived by a group of Catholics angered by the king's repression of recusants.

Art and science

In the first of many collaborations with architect Inigo Jones, playwright Benjamin Jonson presents The Masque of Blackness for James I's, in which Queen Anne makes an appearance. The production secures future masque commissions for Jones and Jonson at court.
Philosopher, Francis Bacon, publishes his treatise The Advancement of Learning.

International

Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes publishes the first part of his satirically romantic novel Don Quixote.
Within a matter of months, three popes would ascend the papal throne, Clement VIII, Leo XI, Paul V respectively.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

Catherine Koehl

17 October 2016, 18:54

This engraving is a second, reworked estate of this engraving : http://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/detail/FOLGERCM1~6~6~113534~107492:Eygentliche-Abbildung-wie-ettlich-E?sort=call_number%2Cauthor%2Ccd_title%2Cimprint&qvq=q:gunpowder;sort:call_number%2Cauthor%2Ccd_title%2Cimprint;lc:FOLGERCM1~6~6&mi=3&trs=926 orhttps://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Guy-Fawkes-and-the-Gunpowder-Plot
Many details prove it : number of hairs on Percy, of stripes on Winter. The best proof is the cape of Percy, which is partially erased in this second state.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.

Citationclose

How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.