Cromwell, history,, present

Hidden: An Unseen Portrait of Oliver Cromwell at the National Portrait Gallery

Hidden: An unseen portrait of Oliver Cromwell

10 July 2014 – 19 October 2015
Room 5
Sir Arthur Hesilrige, by Unknown artist, circa 1640 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London
Sir Arthur Hesilrige
by Unknown artist
circa 1640
NPG 6440

Oliver Cromwell, by Robert Walker, circa 1649 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London
Oliver Cromwell
by Robert Walker
circa 1649
NPG 536

Recent investigation of the portrait of Sir Arthur Hesilrige, using the latest infra-red technology, has revealed what appears to be a hidden portrait of the Parliamentarian commander Oliver Cromwell underneath. The reasons for this change are obscure. Was the artist re-using an old canvas that he had been unable to sell? Or did Hesilrige, a Parliamentarian army officer and committed republican, have Cromwell’s portrait repainted as one of himself when the two fell out over Cromwell’s assumption of the role of Protector? This display puts the Gallery’s portrait of Cromwell alongside that of Hesilrige and, for the first time, shows the infra-red image of the hidden portrait.

© National Portrait Gallery, London


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