Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a Lady, traditionally identified as Jane Pelham 

Sir Peter Lely (1618-80)

Portrait of a Lady, traditionally identified as Jane Pelham, Sir Peter Lely
Oil on canvas
17th Century
30 ¼ x 25 inches, 76.7 x 63.5 cm
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The sitter in this picture has not been conclusively identified. She has been traditionally called Jane Pelham, daughter of James Huxley of Dornford, the wife of Sir Nicholas Pelham (?1649-1739), the long-serving Member of Parliament and uncle of the Duke of Newcastle. Jane Pelham’s date of birth is not certainly known, and although a dating for this portrait of the mid to late 1650s would rule her out as being the sitter, a dating of the early 1660s need not. We know that Sir Nicholas was very young when he married, 14, and that he graduated from Oxford University in 1665, some years after he was knighted by Charles II in 1661. Other similar pictures by Lely that are dated c.1662 by Beckett include ‘Lady Bedell’ and ‘Lady Giffard’ (both private collection). If the sitter is not Jane Pelham, it is probable, given the picture’s provenance, that the sitter is another member of Sir Nicholas Pelham’s family.

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