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Abraham Blooteling (1640-90)

Charles II c.1678-80

Mezzotint | 68.3 x 51.5 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 602538

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  • A mezzotint of Charles II as king: bust length, life sized, wearing a wig, a lace cravat and a brocade coat; within an oval border and with a Latin inscription below; borders trimmed. Rare, a very fine impression.  

    Abraham Blooteling's monumental mezzotints of Charles II, James II when Duke of York (RCIN 6028925) and James, Duke of Monmouth, mark the pinnacle of mezzotint production during the seventeenth century. This magnificent portrait of Charles II is probably a finished state and how Blooteling intended his entire series to appear. The scale and quality of the prints has led some to presume that they were created with royal sanction or that they were even a royal commission.

    The scale of these portraits and the similarities in composition to Vandrebanc's engraving of Charles II (RCIN 630472) has led to the suggestion that they were created in a spirit of competition, perhaps with Lely as a catalyst in the production of both. Lely was one of the few artists for whom Charles II sat, and, as Charles Beale noted in his diary, he was happy to share his ad vivum portraits with other artists, and could have done so with both Vandrebanc and Blooteling.

    Only a few good impressions could be produced from a mezzotint plate, and this finished mezzotint of Charles II must number among these rarities. Following James II's accession to the throne in 1685, Blooteling reissued his mezzotint portrait of James, retaining the portrait but updating the lettering. It is likely that the Royal Collection's impression (RCIN 602825) was made as a reference proof in connection with Blooteling's work on the reissue.

    Blooteling also produced a similar but reduced mezzotint of Charles II, dated 1680 (RCIN 602519).

    Text adapted from Charles II: Art & Power, London, 2017
    Provenance

    Purchased by George IV when Prince Regent from Colnaghi and Co, 24 February 1817 (Royal Archives, GEO/MAIN/28139)

  • Medium and techniques

    Mezzotint

    Measurements

    68.3 x 51.5 cm (sheet of paper)

  • Category
    Object type(s)
  • Bibliographic reference(s)

    No. 153

    Hollstein : Hollstein, F.W.H., 1949. Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts 1450-1700. 32 vols, Amsterdam

    Alternative title(s)

    CAROLVS II DEI GRATIA ANGLIAE SCOTIAE FRANCIAE ET HIBERNIAE REX