Witness to an Execution

On 30th of January 1649, King Charles I of England stood on a temporary scaffold built outside the Banqueting House at Whitehall in London. He had been charged with treason by his enemies in Parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell, and now faced his own execution in front of a massed crowd in the street below.

The King’s death has been studied and discussed ever since, but it is not Charles that I wanted to look at on this sombre anniversary. Standing with him on the scaffold was the Bishop of London, William Juxon, who would become Archbishop of Canterbury at the Restoration in 1660. Juxon was respected and trusted by Charles I, who selected him to attend that day and administer the last rites.

There are a few known portraits of Juxon, although few that I’ve found are of high quality, or by known artists. Lambeth Palace has several, including the below from 1633, attributed only to the British (English) School:

Another, at the National Portrait Gallery in London, is said to be a copy of a 1640 original, both artists unknown:


Next is a copy after Van Dyck, from St John’s College, University of Oxford:


The final portrait, from the Captain Christie Crawfurd English Civil War Collection, has the curious attribution of ‘circle of Robert Walker’. I’m not convinced, but you can make up your own minds! Unlike all of the other portraits, which are oil on canvas, this one is oil on paper laid on panel, and as with most of the Christie Crawfurd Collection, no date is given.


Soon after the King’s death, Juxon was deprived of the bishopric by Cromwell, and went into retirement until recalled to public life by Charles II a decade later. He held the position of Archbishop of Canterbury until his death in 1663.


Happy Anniversary!

Our blog is 1 year old today! What started as both a place for me to ramble about my love of 17th century British portraiture, and an experiment to see if anyone else was even interested in the subject, has turned into a fascinating little corner of the web, with a growing collection of images from the period, and some geat discussions on everything from provenance mysteries to period fashion.

So a big thank you to everyone who has stopped by to read (and hopefully enjoy!) my posts, here and on Facebook, and especially to those who have left a comment or two and started an exchange of ideas. I’d love to see more comments and new posters joining in, even if it’s just to say hello!

If you have any thoughts on how we can do even better in our second year, please do get in touch. Suggestions for post topics, discoveries, information on artists/sitters, exhibitions,  sales, etc – always gratefully received.

One reader suggested a look at the painter John Souch, so he will feature soon, and I’m hoping to share plenty more 17th century discoveries from across the art world as they happen.

I’ll finish with this slightly blurry snap of Van Dyck and Dobson reunited in London’s National Portrait Gallery, at a recent exhibition on Sir Anthony and early self-portraiture in Britain. The two have a long history together, having been purchased at the turn of the 18th century by the historian Richard Graham. The paintings and their remarkable frames were in the same collection for 300 years, until Sir Anthony’s was successfully purchased by the gallery in 2014.  The Dobson is currently based at the National Trust’s Osterley Park.


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17th Century Enthusiast

Warring Words

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