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Oil painting - Oliver Cromwell the Night Before His Death
  • Oliver Cromwell the Night Before His Death
    Wynfield, David Wilkie, born 1837 - died 1887
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Oliver Cromwell the Night Before His Death

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    England (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1867 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Wynfield, David Wilkie, born 1837 - died 1887 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Forster

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The painter and photographer David Wilkie Wynfield (1837-1887) was one of a group of artists known as the St John’s Wood Clique (or School), after the suburb in north London in which they chose to live. Everyone in the group had attended the art school run by James Mathew Leigh and other members included: William Frederick Yeames, Philip Hermogenes Calderon, George Dunlop Leslie, Henry Stacy Marks, George Adolphus Storey, and John Evan Hodgson. With the exception of Leslie, everyone in the Clique specialised in what is now called ‘historical genre’, paintings set broadly within medieval and Renaissance times featuring historical, domestic, or romantic incident.

This oil painting of Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658), lord protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland, was exhibited as ‘Oliver Cromwell The Night Before His Death’ in 1867 at the Royal Academy of Art. It is based on a passage in the writings of Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881), the nineteenth-century author, biographer, and historian. Solemn subjects such as this were typical of Wynfield’s work.

The painting was part of an extensive collection of books, pamphlets, manuscripts, prints, drawings, watercolours and oil paintings bequeathed to the V&A by John Forster (1812-1876) in 1876.

Physical description

Oliver Cromwell lies in a curtained, four-poster bed, his shoulders and head propped up by pillows. His hands are clasped over a book with the title 'Holy Bible'. He gazes upwards. Two women kneel in prayer at the foot of the bed. To the far left of the image is some sort of stand with an ornate jug on it. Next to this is an armchair pulled up to the side of the bed. The room has wooden panelling and two paintings can be seen hanging on the far wall. To the right of the image two steps lead up to another room off the main bed chamber. The door is open and two men stand in its shadow. Behind them can be seen a group of four men kneeling in prayer. Thirteen paintings are visible on the walls of the chamber and two light fittings with candles hang from the ceiling.

Place of Origin

England (painted)


ca. 1867 (painted)


Wynfield, David Wilkie, born 1837 - died 1887 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas


Height: 36.5 in estimate, Width: 60 in estimate, :

Object history note

Bequeathed by John Forster, 1876

Descriptive line

Oil painting on canvas, 'The Deathbed of Cromwell; Ministers at Prayer in an Adjoining Room - Whitehall Friday 3rd September 1658', David Wilkie Wynfield, ca. 1867

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Rogers, David, For King or Parliament: Attitudes of 19th Century Painters to the Civil War, Wolverhampton: Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 1978.

Production Note

When Wynfield exhibited the painting at the Royal Academy in 1867 it had the title 'Oliver Cromwell The Night Before His Death'. It has since been listed in the Summary catalogue of British Paintings, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973 as 'The Deathbed of Cromwell; Ministers at Prayer in an Adjoining Room - Whitehall Friday 3rd September 1658'


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Paintings; Armchair; Bed; Bed hangings; Women; Prayer; Panelling; Death; Men


Paintings; Interiors; Scotland


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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