Alice, Lady Bedell (1598-1666), wife of Sir Capel Bedell
Bust length portrait of a middle-aged woman turned to her right and looking at the artist. She wares a low, wide necked gown of dark blue silk that has slashed sleeved showing white underneath. The top of the sleeves are fastened to the bodice of the dress by gem encrusted buttons. She wears a string of pearls at the throat. Her brown hair is ringleted and worn up at the back but lose at the front. Her hair is shaved at the front to give her a higher hairline. She has a long face, broad forehead and receding chin. The background is plain brown, and set in a feigned oval mount.
Sir Peter Lely (1618 – 80) Portrait painter and collector of Old Masters’ prints and drawings, active in England from the early 1640s. Born in Westphalia to Dutch parents whose real name was van der Faess, he trained in Haarlem and in 1637 became a Master of the Haarlem Guild. Little is known of his work prior to his arrival to London. He became a freeman of the Painter-Stainers’ Company in 1647 and his early English paintings were influenced by Van Dyck and Dutch baroque style. They were mainly mythological scenes (e.g., ‘Nymphs by a Fountain’, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London) and portraits set in landscape, often in pastoral mood, for which he became famous. Lely quickly established himself as a portraitist to Charles I. Swiftly changing his patrons, his reputation and fortune grew steadily and after the execution of the king he served under Oliver Cromwell and his son. In 1660 Charles II appointed Lely his Principal Painter in Ordinary. He was naturalized in 1662. Although his works vary in quality, and in some he was greatly assisted by his pupils, he is regarded as a leading artist of the Restoration. Lely was a master colourist, his style best manifested in exquisite draperies. His portraiture flatters sitters. The ‘Windsor Beauties’, a series of painted ladies at Hampton Court, show voluptuous and dreamy figures while the ‘Flagmen of Lowestoft’, of which the majority are now in the National Maritime Museum, London, display his talent in portraying characters at its best. These show 12 of the admirals and senior captains who fought under James, Duke of York, at the first action of the second Anglo-Dutch War in 1665. Two, of Prince Rupert and the original of ‘Sir John Lawson’ (copy at Greenwich), remain in the Royal Collection, from which the others were presented to the Naval Gallery of Greenwich Hospital by George IV in 1824. Lely was knighted shortly before his death.
Whole height: 940mm
Canvas height: 740mm