Peter Lely  
Peter Lely

Self-portrait, oil on canvas, ca. 1660
Sir Peter Lely, original name Pieter van der Faes (born September 14, 1618, Soest, Westphalia [Germany]—died December 7, 1680, London, England), Baroque portrait painter known for his Van Dyck-influenced likenesses of the mid-17th-century English aristocracy. The origin of the name Lely is said to be the lily carved into the gable of the van der Faes family’s house in The Hague. The young artist was early known as Pieter Lelye.

He studied in Holland at Haarlem, where he became a guild member in 1637. He probably arrived in England in about 1643, and he soon gained the patronage of the court, painting portraits of Charles I and James, duke of York. He was a buyer at the sale of Charles I’s picture collection (1649–53) and in about 1651 petitioned Parliament for the mural decoration of Whitehall. Lely was a connoisseur and was known for his own fine collection of art. He prospered during the Commonwealth and even more during the Restoration, when he produced his finest portraits. In 1661 he received a pension of £200 a year, “as formerly to Van Dyck.” He was knighted in 1679.

Lely was the most technically proficient painter in England after the death of Van Dyck. During the Commonwealth he adopted a severe, puritanical style, but his Restoration portraits of women are noted for their subtle colouring, skillful rendering of silk, and the air of sensuous languor with which they invest their subjects—e.g., the portrait series of court ladies titled The Windsor Beauties (1660s). Simultaneously he painted the portrait series of the Admirals (1666–67) at Greenwich, the best of them rugged and severely masculine characterizations. Lely’s late works are marred by stylistic mannerisms and decreasing vitality.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Two Ladies of the Lake Family
c. 1660
Oil on canvas, 127 x 180 cm
Tate Gallery, London

Amorous Couple in a Landscape
c. 1640
Oil on canvas, 88 x 96 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Valenciennes

Portrait of Lucy Brydges
Oil on canvas, 124 x 99 cm
Private collection

Portrait of Oliver Cromwell
Oil on canvas, 73 x 61 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Henrietta Maria of France, Queen of England
Oil on canvas, 49 x 39 cm
Musée Condé, Chantilly

Trial by Fire
Oil on canvas, 116 x 57 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg


Earl and Countess of Oxford

Sir Robert Worsley, 3rd Baronet

Lady Mary Fane by Sir Peter Lely

James II as Duke of York

Queen Mary II

Painting of Samuel Morland

Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England 1665

Portrait of Sir Henry Stone, c. 1648

Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland, c. 1666

Abraham Cowley, c. 1665-66

James Harrington c. 1658


Louise de La Vallière and her children

Charles II of England, c. 1675

Jane Howard, Duchess of Norfolk

Dudley, Daughter of Sr. Henry North, Bart., Wife of Sir Thomas Cullum

Sir Simon Fanshawe

Sir Thomas Fanshawe of Jenkins and his wife Margaret

Sir William Ashburnham

Lady Frances Savile, Later Lady Brudenell



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