Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of King James II (1633-1701) 1685c.

Studio of Sir Peter Lely (1618-80)

Portrait of King James II (1633-1701), Studio of Sir Peter Lely
Oil on canvas
17th Century
93 x 57 inches 236.1 x 144.6 cm
Probably Jacob, 3rd Baron Astley of Reading (d.1688). Then by family descent at Melton Constable, Norfolk, until 1987.
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This portrait of James II, when Duke of York, is a product of the studio of the court painter, Sir Peter Lely and it relates to a full-length portrait at Kedleston Hall, which is signed and dated 1674.

James is depicted full-length in the magnificent robes of a Knight of the Order of the Garter. The Order was revived at the Restoration along with a new set of attire and this type of portrait would typically have been commissioned either by the sitter for presentation to a loyal courtier or by a royalist supporter to demonstrate his allegiance to the crown.

Lely painted a number of portraits of James when Duke of York, including a pair of him and his wife Anne Hyde dating from c.1660 (Scottish National Portrait Gallery). James was an important patron of Lely and commissioned in 1666 a series of portraits of the flag officers who had served under him in the battle of Lowestoft, as well as portraits of himself and his family. He even owned three unfinished portraits of himself by Lely, which he presumably acquired directly from the artist's studio after his death.

This portrait belonged to the Astley family of Melton Constable, Norfolk. Sir Jacob Astley (1579-1672) was one of the oldest Royalist commanders during the Civil War and had a distinguished military career. For his service during the Civil War he was created Baron Astley of Reading by Charles I. His grandson, Jacob Astley, was only thirteen when his father died but when Charles II landed in 1660, the youth was summoned to meet him, and was appointed Royal Standard Bearer, in which capacity he marched into London with the King and was knighted.
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