Edward Luttrell

Charles II, 1630 - 1685. King of Scots 1649 - 1685, King of England and Ireland 1660 - 1685 (After 1671)

About this artwork

Charles II was a hugely popular monarch and portraits of him were widely collected and displayed. This mezzotint was made by Edward Luttrell, one of the first artists in Britain to use this new form of printmaking, and published by Edward Cooper, who specialised in selling them. Luttrell’s image of the king is after a portrait painted by Lely from about 1671. It shows Charles wearing a fashionable wig and cravat, but dressed in a stylised antique costume, making him appear as both a seventeenth-century monarch and a Roman general or emperor. Although we recognise the king’s features and the rather sardonic look on his face, the portrait also hints at a more serious side to the so-called ‘Merry Monarch’.

Sir Peter Lely

Edward Luttrell

Sir Peter Lely

Lely was born in Soest, Germany, of Dutch parents. In 1637 he was registered as a pupil of Pieter de Grebber in his father's home town of Haarlem. He came to London in about 1643, and in 1647 painted the children of Charles I, in custody during the Civil War. By the end of the Commonwealth, he was the best-known portrait painter in England and, after the restoration of Charles II, he was appointed Principal Painter to the king in 1661. His society beauties are heavy-lidded and sensuous whilst his portraits of Admirals (National Maritime Museum) show a more serious side to his art. The output of his studio was huge, Lely relied heavily on assistants. He was knighted the year of his death.

Edward Luttrell

A somewhat unknown artist, Luttrell was a practitioner of early mezzotints. Although nothing is known of his birth and parentage, he began studying law in about 1670 at New Inn, London. However, he soon gave this up to pursue a career as an artist and became a pupil of the crayon and pastel portrait painter, Edmund Ashfield. Luttrell developed the use of drawing with crayons on copper-plates and expanded the spectrum of colours which could be used. He wrote a manuscript in 1683 on the processes involved in this and early mezzotints. Luttrell was predominantly based in Westminster, London.