Friday, May 16, 2014

Lely, Peter

Two Ladies of the Lake Family (Zwei Damen der Familie Lake)
oil on canvas
128 × 184 cm
Tate Gallery, London, United Kingdom

Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), born to Dutch parents in Westphalia, Germany is a Baroque portrait painter known for his Van Dyck-influenced likenesses of the mid-17th-century English aristocracy.

Around 1641, he left for England, where he soon emerged as a leading portraitist. He was the most technically proficient painter in England after the death of Van Dyck. He was awarded the post of Principal Painter to Charles II, producing magnificent portraits of the men and women of the Restoration court. In 1679, he was also awarded a knighthood. During the Commonwealth he adopted a severe, puritanical style, but his Restoration portraits of women are noted for their subtle coloring, skillful rendering of silk, and the air of sensuous languor. His late works are marred by stylistic mannerisms and decreasing vitality. He died in 1680 with his palette in his hand while painting a portrait of the Duchess of Somerset. He was also famous for his significant art collection, which included almost 10,000 prints and drawings and nearly 600 paintings.