This painting is also by John Everett Millais and it illustrates a Royalist man hidden in a tree stump, hiding from Parliament’s persecution and kissing a Puritan woman’s hand. This was most likely during the execution of Charles I and during the Parliament’s purging of the Royalists, giving the man a reason to flee.
The reign of Charles I was so conflicted because of the monarch’s belief in the divine right of kings, his unwillingness to follow the Petition of Right, and his imposing of rituals on the Church of England. Charles I’s actions angered and offended Puritans, who made up much of England’s parliament. Their complaints caused the land to slip into war, and they proved to be successful in their militant efforts because of their leader, the military genius Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell and the Roundheads got rid of the Royalists, executed Charles I, and forced Charles II to flee in 1651 (the time setting of the painting), which was not mentioned in our textbook.
In The Proscribed Royalist, 1651, we see both historical context and much art technique. I believed that the woman is Puritan because of her dress and head covering and because the man is a Royalist. They are supposed to be opposing each other, so this picture doesn’t make too much sense historically, but is more romantic. Also, Charles II did famously hide in a tree stump, and this painting relates to that. There is a lot of detail in the nature itself. You can see the grooves in the tree bark and the texture of moss and they seem to perfectly blend into each other. The outlines of every leaf on the tree and the trees in the background are distinguishable, as well as the ferns (I believe that’s what those are). The woman’s face has ideal features and structure and the detail is noticeable (in my opinion). You can see her worry and alertness, but not exactly sadness and you can see the painstaking detail on her dress. Every single ruffle and fold on the gold part is beautifully plain to us and the part where the sun is shining on it is obviously brighter. The man hiding in the tree obviously has no light shining in him and we know he is inside the tree because he is darker than the rest of the painting.
In conclusion, Millais paints a scene, although unlikely, from what might have happened during a conflicted time in England’s past and depicts it stunningly.