Portrait of a Royalist

Image credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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A half-length portrait of an unknown Royalist naval commander. He wears a salmon-pink doublet, with braid on the front and sleeves. Over his left arm, a drape of blue material, perhaps a silk cloak, may also symbolise the sea. He holds the hilt of his sword in his right hand. In his left hand he holds a paper, thought to be either a chart or his naval commission. Behind the sitter, to the left, a contrived sculptural relief of an allegorical female figure holds a globe and dividers. To the right of the sitter, a ship is faintly painted to denote his identity as a naval commander. Globes symbolized learning and scholarship, and with compasses and dividers, and other instruments, formed the attributes of geometry, one of the Seven Liberal Arts. In this sense it meant measurement of the Earth. Since navigation is based on geometry and its derivative, trigonometry, the iconography of the portrait's background suggests geography and also navigation, appropriate for a naval officer.

National Maritime Museum



Portrait of a Royalist




oil on canvas


H 96.5 x W 77.5 cm

Accession number


Work type



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