Charles II (1630-85)

John Michael Wright (1617-94)

Charles II (1630-85)


Oil on canvas

281.9 x 239.2 cm

Purchased by Queen Victoria

This powerful painting is an outstanding example of the artist’s work, as well as an enduring image of monarchy restored. It was probably painted in 1661, soon after Charles II’s Coronation on 23rd April. The King wears St Edward’s crown, is dressed in parliamentary robes over the Garter costume and carries the new orb and sceptre. These were made specially by Sir Robert Vyner, the King’s goldsmith as the earlier regalia had been destroyed during the Interregnum. The King is seated in front of a tapestry apparently representing the Judgment of Solomon, which may allude to his wisdom.

The portrait is unusually formal for this date, as the King is shown in a pose more commonly seen on seals and coins. However, Wright’s picture refers to both contemporary French painting, and earlier English depictions of monarchs, such as Elizabeth I and Henry VIII.

RCIN 404951