by Robert Walker
oil on canvas, circa 1649
49 1/2 in. x 40 in. (1257 mm x 1016 mm)
Transferred from British Museum, 1879
Sitterback to top
- Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), Lord Protector of England. Sitter associated with 224 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Robert Walker (1599-1658), Painter. Artist associated with 142 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Cromwell was a country gentleman who became a soldier, statesman and finally Lord Protector of Great Britain. As MP for Huntingdon and then Cambridge, he was an outspoken critic of Charles I and 'much hearkened unto'. His military skills and God-fearing tenacity were decisive factors in the Parliamentarian victory in the Civil War. Cromwell was prominent among those who first treated with, and then executed the king in 1649. This portrait is thought to date from that year and shows Cromwell wearing a type of armour which is unlikely to have been worn in battle but instead designed as a symbol of chivalric virtues. He holds a baton, the symbol of high military command.
Linked publicationsback to top
- National Portrait Gallery: 100 Portraits, p. 34
- Audio Guide
- Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 21
- Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 59
- Cooper, John, Oliver the First: Contemporary Images of Oliver Cromwell, 1999, p. 21
- Foskett, Daphne, Samuel Cooper, 1974 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 15 March - 15 June 1974), p. 131
- Piper, David, Catalogue of Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1625-1714, 1963, p. 92
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 62
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 62
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 155
- Schama, Simon, The Face of Britain: The Nation Through its Portraits, 2015-09-15, p. 57
- Schama, Simon, The Face of Britain: The Nation Through its Portraits, 2015-09-15, p. xxvi
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 86
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Hidden: An Unseen Portrait of Oliver Cromwell (10 July 2014 - 19 October 2014)
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1649back to top
Current affairsCharged with subverting the nation's laws and liberties and cruelly making war against Parliament and the English people, Charles I is found guilty by a court of 159 commissioners, and beheaded outside the Banqueting House, Whitehall.
England is declared a commonwealth and power is entrusted to a Council of State.
Art and scienceEikon Basilike, a self-exonerating account of Charles I's rule, is published days after his death. Allegedly written by the king himself, John Gauden, Bishop of Worcester, claimed authorship after the Restoration. Other tributes followed the king's death giving rise to a royalist cult of Charles the Martyr.
InternationalOliver Cromwell, as lord lieutenant of Ireland, begins his campaign in Ireland to subdue royalist support, and leads English Parliamentarian forces against the Royalist-Confederate coalition. The campaign's bloody massacres, in particular, the Siege of Drogheda and Wexford where Cromwell's troops slaughtered soldiers and civilians alike, became notorious.
See this portrait
On display in Room 5 at the National Portrait Gallery