Mary Capel (1630–1715), Later Duchess of Beaufort, and Her Sister Elizabeth (1633–1678), Countess of Carnarvon

Artist: Sir Peter Lely (Pieter van der Faes) (British, Soest 1618–1680 London)

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 51 1/4 x 67 in. (130.2 x 170.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Jacob Ruppert, 1939

Accession Number: 39.65.3


Lely was one of the most distinguished foreign artists nurtured in seventeenth-century England and the Capels were among the royalist families who were his patrons during the Commonwealth era. This is one of a number of family portraits commissioned in the 1650s by Arthur, second baron Capel and later first earl of Essex. In the eighteenth century, George Vertue, who was writing a history of the arts in England, saw the portraits in the library at Cassiobury Park, the Capels' great English baroque house in Hertfordshire, and described the set as among Lely's finest. The countess of Carnarvon, an amateur artist, displays a painting of a tulip bearing her signature surmounted by a coronet.