Kneller came to England in 1676 at the age of thirty and quickly sprang to prominence and royal favour. His portraits form a bridge between the voluptuous, aristocratic styles of Van Dyck and Lely in the Stuart period, and the native tradition of portraiture which established itself in the Georgian era. Kneller made a number of portraits of the ageing King Charles II, of which this is the last and most searching. The King is shown in Garter robes, but his seated pose is brittle and stiff, his face is drawn and his hands limp, while his crown is left in shadow. That Kneller added the unusual inscription 'ad vivum' to his signature implies that the work was begun in Charles’s lifetime, but that it was not completed until some time after his death.