Sir Peter Lely
Portrait of a Lady
Black, red, and white chalk, on gray laid watermarked paper.
(255 x 195 mm)
Signed and dated at left in black chalk, "P. Lely (the initials in monogram) / 1658".

The clothing and hair style in this drawing is more consistent with 1658 than 1638. I think you need to look more closely at the date numbers. In 1658, Peter Lely was at The Hague in the Netherlands, along with the rest of the court of King Charles II of England, making ready for his return to English soil after an 11 years interregnum. The sitter in this drawing is a young, 17 years old Barbara Villiers, the reigning court beauty at the time, and current mistress of the Earl of Chesterfield. She at 19, became the mistress of King Charles II and returned to England in his retinue. She was married to Roger Palmer. Oil portraits of her command very big prices. She was painted by Lely 16 times. This drawing is very interesting for a number of reasons, being the first one done of her is the most important one. Look up her history and compare this drawing with other portraits of her. She was so young in this one, that there is some resemblance to her later portraits, but her cheeks are fuller here. I love this drawing of here because it almost has an innocent look to it, although she was anything but.

Caroline Sweet

Santa Barbara, California USA

Sir Peter Lely Portrait of a Lady



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