The outbreak of the English Civil War in 1641 brought to an end the great artistic flowering that took place under Charles I (Stuart), exemplified in the art of his court painter van Dyck, who died that year. During the war, van Dyck’s place was filled by his English follower William Dobson. Following Charles’s defeat by Parliamentary forces led by Cromwell, and his execution in 1649, the monarchy and the House of Lords were abolished and England was declared ‘a Commonwealth or free state’. From then to the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 the Commonwealth was in effect ruled by Cromwell. The period is also known as interregnum (between reigns).
During this period painter Sir Peter Lely dominated the artistic scene. He came to prominence after the death of van Dyck and then, with the restoration of the monarchy remained one of the leading portrait painters during the reign of Charles II.