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Francoys van Beusekom (active 1642-65)

The execution of Charles I c.1650

Engraving from two plates | 43.8 x 53.9 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 601937

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Charles I was executed in front of the Banqueting House on 30 January 1649. This unprecedented act of regicide garnered much attention across Europe and there was a great appetite for information and images of the event. The establishment of the Commonwealth brought with it restrictions on the activities of the printing presses in England, and it fell to printmakers on the Continent to meet demand both at home and abroad. It is likely that the scene depicted here was based on eyewitness accounts rather than being directly observed by the artist. The present print was probably printed in Amsterdam. Many prints on the execution of Charles I alluded to the imagery of martyrdom. The execution scene is surrounded by episodes from the end of the king's life, in the manner of scenes from the life of a saint. The upper register has the body of the king lying in state under a canopy, flanked by other English and European monarchs from history in full regalia, accompanied by their nation's shield. Text adapted from Charles II: Art & Power, London, 2017