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:

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

juxon-2

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

juxon-3

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.

juxon-4

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.

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3 Comments

  1. I’m embarrassed to have taken so long to comment on this post!

    The second portrait reminds me very much of Van Dyck’s portrait of Archbishop Laud, albeit reversed. who was working in London around that time and very influenced by him? Could it be from hs studio?

    The last one seems odd to me. Granted fashions changed and there’s no reason for Juxon not to be clean-shaven, but it looks … I dunno, too late. Puts me more in mind of the later Restoration era, almost into Kneller’s works. This is purely impressions, I should add, with absolutely no evidence!

    I have always had a soft spot for Juxon. I spent my teens devoted to Charles I, so it sort of followed.

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    • No worries, any comment is always welcome, however long it takes! 😉

      Funny you should mention Laud. When I was looking for images of Juxon I noted the similarity between the two. I think there must have been a standard Archbishop template for portraits, because they really are alike!

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      • I think you’re right. Take one standard rochet and chimere, Canterbury cap and pair of Van Dyckian hands, and hey presto, all you have to do is insert the head of choice!

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