The execution of King Charles I
The execution of King Charles I
after Unknown artist
etching, circa 1649
11 1/2 in. x 10 1/4 in. (292 mm x 260 mm)
This portraitback to top
Images commemorating Charles I's execution were suppressed in England but numerous prints were produced in continental Europe. The first recorded engraving is the Theatrum Tragicum, published in Amsterdam within weeks of the event. This German print is a close copy but reversed. The reaction of the spectators reflects an eyewitness account that the stunned crowd groaned with grief as the axe fell. The resemblance of the fainting woman to images of the Virgin Mary at the Crucifixion is likely to have struck a chord with contemporary viewers.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Cannadine, Sir David (Introduction); Cooper, Tarnya; Stewart, Louise; MacGibbon, Rab; Cox, Paul; Peltz, Lucy; Moorhouse, Paul; Broadley, Rosie; Jascot-Gill, Sabina, Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 7 October 2018 -3 February 2019. Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia, 16 March - 14 July 2019.), p. 116 Read entry
Images commemorating Charles I's execution were suppressed in England but numerous prints were produced in continental Europe; this one originated in Germany. The execution took place on a specially built platform outside the Banqueting House of Whitehall Palace. The reaction of the spectators reflects an eyewitness account of the stunned crowd groaning with grief as the axe fell.
- Williamson, David, Kings and Queens, 2010, p. 113
- Williamson, David, The National Portrait Gallery: History of the Kings and Queens of England, 1998, p. 115
Placesback to top
- Place portrayed: United Kingdom: England, London (Banqueting House, Whitehall, Westminster, London)
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Charles I: King and Martyr (19 July 2008 - 14 December 2008)
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.
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