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Charles ll portrait sale is reminder of Staffordshire's role in king's flight

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: February 25, 2014

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A piece of royal history is for sale next month, highlighting Staffordshire's involvement with Charles II’s dramatic exile following his defeat by Cromwellian forces at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

The King and his party made for the Catholic stronghold of Shropshire via the Staffordshire countryside; seeking refuge in the homes of loyal Catholic nobles on their way including Boscobel House near Coven, and spawning the legend of the Royal Oak , in which Charles allegedly hid whilst staying at the nearby White Ladies Priory.

Now auction house Cuttlestones is offering for sale of a substantial oil on canvas portrait of Charles II from the studio of Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680). Presented in its original carved gilt frame the three-quarter length portrait depicts the King wearing the blue sash of the garter and armour breastplate over an ochre doublet, holding a baton in his left hand, and is expected to achieve in the region of £3,000 - £5,000 at the Penkridge auction house’s Friday 14th March Fine Art Sale.

In an interesting twist, from the mid 1980s, the portrait hung at Black Ladies Priory on the edge of Boscobel parish before the vendor moved to nearby Brewood.

Cuttlestones’ Picture expert, William Lacey, says of the lot:“This is a fine contemporary portrait of a King who ruled during one of the most dramatic periods in British history. As the court’s dominant portrait painter, Sir Peter Lely was commissioned by the King to produce portraits as gifts for nobles across the country loyal to his cause. In many cases, Lely would paint the face and hands of the subject before handing over to his studio painters to complete the work. According to the vendor, this piece originally bore a plaque stating that the portrait was gifted to Sir Henry Oxenden, 1st Baronet, for services rendered in the Royalist cause.

“The fact that the piece hung for several decades in a substantial country home with such close links to the King’s exile is most fitting.”

Carrying an estimate of £3,000 - £5,000 the painting will come under the hammer on Friday, March 14 at Cuttlestones’ Fine Art Auction in Penkridge, Staffordshire.

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