William Laud

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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William Laud

after Sir Anthony van Dyck
oil on canvas, based on a work of 1636
48 1/2 in. x 37 in. (1232 mm x 940 mm)
Purchased, 1864
Primary Collection
NPG 171

On display in Room 4 on Floor 3 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

  • William Laud (1573-1645), Archbishop of Canterbury. Sitter associated with 61 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Painter. Artist or producer associated with 1023 portraits, Sitter associated with 30 portraits.

Related worksback to top

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 366
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 52 Read entry

    Carved and gilt oak, chamfered at the back, mason's mitre, the upper part of the lion mask planted, the original back frame in pine with a mortise and tenon joint with the projecting tenon fixed with two pegs at each corner, apparently all in original condition except for a later additional build up to allow for glazing and backing of the picture; three pairs of holes, perhaps for hanging, in the top edge of the back frame at distances between 1 3⁄ 4 and 3 1⁄ 4 inches apart. The frame 3 to 5 inches wide, 7 inches at top cresting.

    This fine auricular frame of mid-seventeenth century date, original except for the later surface, has a stylised lion mask at the top and another more grotesque mask at the bottom. By identifying the upturned rounded forms on either side of the lion mask at the corners as paws, a reading of the top of the frame as a highly stylised representation of a lion's skin is possible. The mask at the bottom is tied through the eyes as if by a cord fixed to the substrate of the frame. The capricious ornament of the sides of the frame derives ultimately from the idea of an animal skin with irregular curling edges.

    The frame of this portrait of Archbishop Laud can be seen in an old photograph of the Gallery taken in 1911, and may be original. Another Van Dyck, the portrait of Margaret Lemon at Hampton Court, has a frame of this type although not necessarily original. A particularly fine example can be found on the early Lely of Lord and Lady Dacre, sold Christie's, 19 November 1982, lot 79, and a variant of the type on another early Lely of the Countess of Dysart at Ham House (one of four of this pattern at Ham). Other examples in the National Portrait Gallery include a frame in store from a mid-seventeenth century anonymous portrait of the 1st Earl of Craven, the frame on Jacob Huysman’s portrait of the 1st Duke of Lauderdale of c.1665, and the frame which has been fitted to the anonymous portrait of John Ray.

Events of 1636back to top

Current affairs

The third daughter of Charles I, Princess Anne, is born. She dies aged three of natural causes at Richmond Palace.
Severe outbreak of the bubonic plague closes London theatres. They remain almost continuously closed until the end of the year.

Art and science

Canvases by painter, Sir Peter Paul Rubens are installed on the ceiling of the Banqueting House. Commissioned by Charles I, the paintings celebrate the life and wise government of his father, James I.
The favourite portraitist of James I's queen Anne of Denmark, Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, dies.


Scottish army officer, Alexander Leslie, Earl of Leven, is appointed Swedish Field Marshal in Westphalia, and commands forces in a decisive victory over Imperial-Saxon forces at the Battle of Wittstock.
North America's first college, New College, is founded in Massachusetts; two years later, its name would be changed to Harvard.

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Laurie Pettitt

14 August 2017, 12:19

Laud is only ever associated with his religious actions and for those, he has been vilified for more than three hundred years. The relationship between Wentworth and Laud should have told us that Laud was more than history makes him out to be. You see; both Wentworth and Laud brought the Arrogant and Powerful to Justice. Laud prosecuted land owners for enclosing land and removing the livings of the people who had farmed those lands for generations. Laud tried to carry forward the Elizabethan policy of standardizing religion. Get everyone singing from the same Hymn Sheet!
A much better and far more complex person than history paints him.