About this artwork

Riley was "sworne Painter and Picture Drawer in Ordinary" to King Charles II in 1681, making several portraits of the monarch before his death. This work by Riley’s studio is characteristic of his unidealistic and melancholic style. In reference to another portrait of him by Riley, Charles commented: “Is this like me? Then oddfish I’m an ugly fellow”. His eyes are dark and deep with a glint that denotes a sense of sadness. His jowls sit heavily against the elaborate scarf which dissolves into the background, the light only picking up a glimpse of his armour. Painted the same year that King Charles dissolved the English parliament due to personal conflicts, resultantly ruling alone until his death, this portrait captures an unusually sombre and contemplative side to the ‘Merry Monarch’.

  • title:
    Charles II, 1630 - 1685. King of Scots 1649 - 1685, King of England and Ireland, 1660 - 1685
  • accession number:
    PG 3441
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  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • date created:
    About 1681
  • measurements:
    55.40 x 46.80 cm
  • credit line:
    Bequeathed by Angus William Ranald MacDonald 2006
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve