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The Historical Painter (BM 1868,0808.5135)


The Historical Painter (BM 1868,0808.5135)



Fox, as Cromwell, in a travesty of seventeenth-century dress, paints a picture of the execution of Charles I. The picture is supported at an angle on a table or stand and rests against the wall. Fox's palette is the base of a crown, his brush is a sceptre, the point of which he holds against the head of the prostrate king.
The picture represents the king face downwards, six men standing behind him, one the headsman with an axe, another a man holding an open book. The background is the façade of the Banqueting House. In the foreground are two symmetrical rows of flat circular hats representing the heads of spectators. The frame is inscribed 'Outlines' and (below) 'Jan. 30'.
Fox wears a cloak, slashed doublet and breeches, a high-crowned hat in which a large fox's brush takes the place of a feather; this is inscribed 'The Man of Moderation'. He stands in profile to the right, painting with a complacent expression. Behind him stands Justice (left) with her sword (inscribed 'Justice') raised to strike. In her left hand she holds scales; in the higher scale (right) sits a fox, which is much outweighed by the other, inscribed 'Loyalty'. She stands in front of a pillar inscribed 'Pro rege, lege, grege'. In the foreground, in front of Fox, lies a sword partly drawn from the scabbard, its blade inscribed 'Commonwealth'. Against its hilt is propped an open book, 'Patriotism by C. Cromwell'. A cat of demon-like appearance crouches towards the book.
Another picture hangs above that on which he is working. It represents a fox (left) standing on its hind legs and presenting a document inscribed 'Independence' to America in the guise of an Indian brave (right); it holds the cap of Liberty on a staff. Behind the fox is a setting sun; another (? rising) sun shines down upon the Indian; both have faces. 10 February 1784






British Museum

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satirical print
satirical print