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King Charles II in Boscobel Wood

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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

Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

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

This portraitback to top

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.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 116
  • Waterhouse, Ellis Kirkham, The dictionary of 16th & 17th century British painters, 1988, p. 94

Placesback to top

Events of 1661back to top

Current affairs

The Cavalier Parliament, with pro-royalist-Anglican majority, begins passing legislation to enforce conformity to the restored Church of England. These statues became known as the 'Clarendon Code', named after, Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, erroneously, since Clarendon favoured a more tolerate approach.
Coronation of Charles II in Westminster Abbey.

Art and science

Prince Rupert, Count Palatine, the earliest practitioner of mezzotint engraving in England, demonstrates the technique to diarist John Evelyn.
The Sceptical Chymist by natural philosopher, Robert Boyle is published; in it Boyle argues for a more philosophical approach to the study of nature by 'chymists'.


The marriage treaty of Charles II and Catherine of Braganza, sister of the Afonso VI, King of Portugal is concluded. Catherine's dowry brings Mumbai and Tangiers into British possession, as well as free trade with Brazil and the East Indies. England, in return, would provide military protection for Portugal.

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Denis Fahey

27 October 2016, 21:56

According to the Illustrated London News of November 8th, 1856 ,the sitters of the pictures painted by Fuller "descriptive of the escape, disguise and concealment of the king after the battle of Worchester" were "Colonels Careless, Lane and Pendrills".
It added that " Lord Clanbrassil, the last incumbent of the woolsack" of the Irish House of Lords took them to Tullymore Park when the Irish parliament was abolished.
However, Clanbrassil was never lord chancellor of Ireland and therefore not the Speaker of the House. In any case, he died in 1798, two years before the House was abolished. Therefore, he must have taken them earlier, with or without the agreement of his peers.