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The Last Sleep of the Earl of Argyll

Edward Matthew Ward

This is an oil painting of Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll before his execution on 30th June 1685 for his opposition to the reign of James II.

This painting was originally intended to hang in a corridor in the House of Commons. However it was found that the paintings, with their heavy gilt frames, made the corridor too narrow, so the artist was asked to paint the same subjects in fresco instead.

The Earl was first sentenced to death on charges of high treason in 1661 but was spared.  Twenty years later he was again charged with treason and sentenced to death but managed to escape to Holland dressed as a serving maid.  In 1685 he returned to Scotland to join an invasion to restore the Protestant faith. The attack on the throne of James II failed and Argyll was captured and executed.