William Craven, 1st Earl of Craven

William Craven, 1st Earl of Craven, by Unknown artist, late 17th century - NPG 270 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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William Craven, 1st Earl of Craven

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, late 17th century
45 in. x 35 1/2 in. (1143 mm x 902 mm)
Given by George Grimston Craven, 3rd Earl of Craven, 1868
Primary Collection
NPG 270

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

At the age of ten Craven inherited a great fortune from his father, a former Lord Mayor of London. Throughout the Thirty Years War he fought on the Continent, first under the Prince of Orange, then as commander of the English forces in Germany, and for twenty-five years in the service of Elizabeth, the ex-Queen of Bohemia, spending his fortune generously in her cause. He remained at the Hague until the Restoration, when his loyalty was rewarded with civil and military offices, and an earldom. This portrait of him in armour holding the baton of command is thought to be based on an original painted in the 1640s when he was at the height of his military career.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D29510: William Craven, 1st Earl of Craven (based on same portrait)
  • NPG D42462: William Craven, 1st Earl of Craven (based on same portrait)
  • NPG D42463: William Craven, 1st Earl of Craven (based on same portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Piper, David, Catalogue of Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1625-1714, 1963, p. 89
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 151

Subjects & Themesback to top

Events of 1670back to top

Current affairs

Charles II mistress, Barbara Villiers, is created Duchess of Cleveland and granted Nonsuch Palace including its sizeable grounds.
Actress and royal mistress, Nell Gwyn, gives birth to Charles II's son, Charles, who would later become, Duke of St. Albans.

Art and science

Tragicomedy, The Forc'd Marriage, by Aphra Behn, staged by the Duke's Company, starts Behn's career as a professional writer. The writer may have been a royalist spy towards the end of the interregnum.
Poet laureate, John Dryden, is made historiographer royal, a post he would hold for nearly 20 years.


Terms of a secret treaty between Charles II and Louis XIV are brought by Henrietta, Duchess of Orleans during a visit to Dover; upon England supplying the majority of military power for a war against Holland and Charles's official conversion to Catholicism, France would assist financially.

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