Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Charles I (1600-1649) with Sir Edward Walker (1612-1677) 

 English School 17th Century 

Portrait of Charles I (1600-1649) with Sir Edward Walker (1612-1677),  English School 17th Century
Oil and Canvas
17th Century
25 1/8 x 30½ in (63.7 x 77.5 cm)
David Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1625-1714, 1963, p.g.63.
The present work acts as a fascinating document of the Royalist support still present in England following the Civil War, and the role visual imagery played in showing this support and alliance.

In 1633 at the age of twenty one Walker joined the household of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (1585-1646) who held the office of earl marshal - one of the greatest offices of state. It was largely due to his patron that Walker’s early successes can be credited, in 1635 for example, we know he was appointed his own coat of arms on the warrant of Arundel. As the threat of civil war loomed, in 1639 Walker was sent with Arundel to negotiate with the Scots, in a bloodless expedition which would earn him the title Secretary at War. In 1645 Walker was knighted and in the same year was made Garter King of Arms, remaining loyal to the King until the surrender of Oxford in 1646.

On the King’s execution in 1649 Walker left for The Hague and joined the exiled Charles II where he was appointed Clerk of the Council in Ordinary and Receiver of the King’s Money. After the King’s return from exile in 1660 he remained Clerk of the Council, and his loyalty was rewarded following the Restoration when he was reinstated as Garter King of Arms. With the restoration however also came a vast reorganisation of offices of power, and unlike the previous years in exile when all heraldic matters were left to Walker, various commissioners were installed and certain protocols were introduced. Walker soon fell from favour following his refusal to comply with the Earl Marshal, who, after being appointed by the king was given the sole power to decide who was granted arms.

The present work is a reduced scale version based on the work which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, London by an unknown hand. There are however some subtle differences between the two; the NPG work has a more expansive background reaching across what appears to be a river, where a battle can be seen in the distance. The present work however has a foreshortened background, and also omits the column base seen in the NPG work. There is also a third version of the image, known only through engraving [NPG], which has an entirely different background, with what appears to a be a military camp and a castle behind Charles.

The present work passed through family descent from Sir Edward Walker to the eminent bibliophile Michael Wodhull (1740-1816) who built Thenford House, near Banbury, in the 1760’s. The painting remained at Thenford until the 1930’s when the house had to be sold off and the contents were either sold through auction or, as is most likely the case with the present work, kept by the remaining family members.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.