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Charles II c.1661

RCIN 602441

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An engraving of Charles II as king: bust length with armour, a lace collar and an order on a chain around his neck. Set within a heart, with initials above, and a coat of arms, an orb, a sceptre and three crowns below. The borders have been trimmed.

While Charles recognised the importance of official images of himself, sittings were only granted to a limited number of official artists. The popular market was serviced by the mass production of prints whose likeness of the king and iconographical elements could be taken from a variety of sources. The placing of Charles's portrait within a heart situates the print within a tradition of devout images that transcend the obeisance of a loyal subject, and approach the religious (and primarily Catholic) devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The absence of lettering (other than Charles's initials) on the print and the odd arrangement of the regalia, suggest that this print was intended primarily as a model for copying onto other media, such as ceramics. No other impression of this print is known, testifying to its essentially disposable purpose. The pinholes in each corner suggest that early in its life it was pinned to a wall for decorative purposes rather than pasted into a collector's album.

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