Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Lady Margaret Parker, c. 1660 1660c.

Sir Peter Lely (1618-80)

Portrait of Lady Margaret Parker, c. 1660, Sir Peter Lely
Oil on canvas
17th Century
50 x 40 inches 127 x 101.2 cm
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The spirit of restoration, in the sense of the country being revivified by the King’s return in 1660, finds expression in Lely’s portraiture at this date. His palette becomes richer and more varied, and a note of opulence returns, albeit restrained here in this beautiful evening portrait of lady Margaret Parker, which is treated like a Venetian nocturne.

The blue satin of her dress shimmers superbly in the light falling from the right-hand side and helps illuminate the picture. Outside beyond the heavy damask curtain it is fast approaching night and through the trees the clouds are touched by the moon. The only sound beyond perhaps the night things is the fall of the water spout from a baroque cherubs head into the scallop basin below. The sitter is benignly placid and accommodating, but the young spaniel in her lap has the light of rebellion in its eyes and seems to fidget as our well-bred sitter never would.
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