Completed Dress and Textiles, Portraits: British 16th and 17th C, South West England: Artists and Subjects 11 What sort of relationship might Sir Peter Lely have with this painting?

Topic: Artist

This is clearly a Sir Peter Lely composition. It might be an original or a version or a product of his studio. It should be compared with a painting of Charlotte Noel, Duchess of York in Torrington Town Hall, which has the same composition, but is of a rather different sitter
Lely occasionally painted pictures of this type 'fancy portraits' of female sitters as saints, as did some of contemporaries. Both paintings are very dirty and one would need to see them to form any sensible opinion as to their status.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The attribution has been updated from ‘British (English) School’ to ‘studio of Peter Lely’ and the title changed from ‘Saint Agnes (?)’ to ‘Portrait of a Lady as a Shepherdess’.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Jimaa Alaa,

It looks like the Queen Mary II of England 1962-1694.

Jacinto Regalado,

This might be a specific woman as St Agnes, but not St Agnes proper. However, the rather knowing expression may be more in keeping with a shepherdess. As for authorship, it could certainly be studio of Lely, though cleaning is badly needed and quite probably deserved.

Tamsyn Taylor,

This painting is superb. Once cleaned it will resolve into a finer work than either or | |
The painting of Charlotte Noel looks to be derived from this, noit the other way around.
This is particularly apparent in the way that in the present work, the fold of the bidce relate directly to the shape of the breasts beneath them. In the Charlotte Noel painting, all the folds are there, but not conforming to the shape beneath.
Likewise the pale blue robe conforms to the shape of the figure. In the Catherine Noel painting the drapry is far less meaningful and structured.
The woman's left hand makes sense in the first picture, and not in the second.
I think thois is a very fine picture and would love to see it cleaned.

Jacob Simon,

Both the current picture and that of Charlotte Noel probably derive their compositions from a yet unidentified autograph Lely prototype. It's a pity that the drapery in the portrait under discussion is hard and formulaic. Clearly the work of a copyist or, at best, studio assistant.

It's a further pity that it has probably been slightly cut down, as comparison to Charlotte Noel would suggest.

Jacob Simon,

Here is an image showing that the compostion, as opposed to our particular version, was engraved in Lely's lifetime.

Catherine Grey (née Ford), Lady Grey of Warke, mezzotint, circa 1680, after Sir Peter Lely (National Portrait Gallery, D30551).

I think ours is earlier in hairstyle.

Louis Musgrove,

This seems to link with the other discussion about Michael Wright.
David's Shepherdess formerly Nell Gwynne(first link) looks the same person as our sitter.
Davids unknown shepherdess-link3hux5sg ,last of three- looks like the sitter in the other discussion(Michael Wright?) but a year or two older.
David's middle link-Lucy Walter- looks like neither this sitter or the Micheal Wright discussion sitter.

Jacob Simon,

This discussion dates from 2021: "What sort of relationship might Sir Peter Lely have with this painting?"

It appears to have been cut down. It is clearly not autograph, as indicated by the hardness of the drapery. Yet it is a Lely composition as an engraving reveals (20/06/2021 19:02).

The sitter: Saint Agnes as now as a title is misleading. 'Portrait of a lady' or 'Portrait of a lady as a shepherdess' would be closer to the mark.

The artist: 'Studio of Peter Lely' would be a reasonable designation.