An Engraved Illustration of the Gunpowder Plot

Jenkins describes eating with General Liddament and his  staff: “A single lamp threw a circle of dim light round the dining table of the farm parlour where we ate, leaving the rest of the room in heavy shadow, dramatising by its glow the central figures of the company present. Were they a group of conspirators — something like the Gunpowder Plot — depicted in the cross-hatchings of an old engraved illustration?” [SA 36-7/34 ]

The Gunpowder Plot Crispijn de Passe the Elder, engraving, circa 1605 from the National Portrait Gallery with permission by Creative Commons license

The Gunpowder Plot
Crispijn de Passe the Elder, circa 1605
engraving, 7 7/8 in. x 8 1/8 in
from the National Portrait Gallery with permission by Creative Commons license

 

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was an attempt by Guy Fawkes and others to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The failure of the plot is still celebrated in Britain by bonfires and fireworks as Guy Fawkes Night every November 5. The engraving above includes the only known contemporary portrait of Fawkes. His name appears above the third figure from the right; “Guy” becomes “Guido” in Latin. The artist is Crispijn de Passe the Elder (~1565-1637), a Dutch engraver who worked through a London publisher and bookseller to sell his prints in Britain. Powell might well have been familiar with this engraving because from 1962 to 1976 he was a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, which has a number of portraits of him.

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