John Nalson, "An Allegory of 1649"

John Nalson’s 1689 picture, "An Allegory of 1649," readily depicts the chaos surrounding the execution of the king. As the rough sea rocks the boat, the stage of Charles I’s death, lightning strikes the church that in turn beams an ominous glare on the spectacle. While Charles in the reverential Eikon Basilike is represented as the center of all things earthly and heavenly, his face rendered in sympathetic detail, Nalson’s king, duly thrown off the boat by a number of faceless men, is almost comically nondescript and minuscule. In the foreground of Nalson’s picture, onlookers fight amongst themselves with expressions that are ambiguously helpless and complacent.

Contributing author: Michelle Ephraim, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Responding to "An Allegory of 1649"

Answer the following questions in your notebook—this will be collated so that you can print or e-mail your work when you are finished.
1). How does the symbolism of this image differ from that of Eikon Basilike?

2). Why, do you think, does Nalson include Charles I’s subjects in his picture?

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