2 of 224 portraits of Oliver Cromwell
- Extended catalogue entry
© National Portrait Gallery, London
Early Stuart Portraits Catalogue
by Samuel Cooper
2 1/4 in. x 1 7/8 in. (57 mm x 48 mm) oval
Inscriptionback to top
Signed and dated above his left shoulder S.C./1649.
This portraitback to top
A powerful, accomplished image, one of the earliest of Cromwell and certainly the earliest known of him by Cooper.  It shows a head looking younger and less stressed than those by Walker and by Cooper from the 1650s, and remains perhaps the most attractive of all his portraits.
NPG 5589 had previously been at Northwick where called Robert Lilburne, but it was correctly identified by the time of the Sotheby’s sale. 
A copy in oil is in the Hermitage State Museum. 
Footnotesback to top
1) Cooper had ‘some worke for my Lo: General Cromwell and his family to finish’ in 1650 (Long 1929, 85; K. Coombs, The Portrait Miniature in England, 1998, p 65), previously accepted as the earliest reference to their association.
2) Oliver Millar had recognised it at Northwick in 1958, but his identification was not accepted, it would appear, by Piper. In the Northwick Catalogues of 1864 and 1908 unattributed miniatures are listed as of ‘Robert Lilburne’ and of Cromwell, nos.12 and 15.
3) Panel, 39 x 31, the composition extended, showing his right arm resting on a stone ledge, a baton in his hand.
Referenceback to top
Simon and Saywell (eds) 2004
Complete Illustrated Catalogue, NPG, ed. J. Simon & D. Saywell, 2004, p 155.
Provenanceback to top
George Spencer-Churchill, Northwick Park; Charles Woollett & Son, 1966, as of Robert Lilburne; Sotheby’s, 4 July 1983, lot 57, bt. Dr Erika Pohl, from whom purchased the same year.
Exhibitionsback to top
Master Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery, 1993/94(6).
This extended catalogue entry is by John Ingamells, one of a limited number of entries drafted in 2010 for the incomplete catalogue, Early Stuart Portraits 1625-1685, and is as written then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.
View all known portraits for Oliver Cromwell