Study for a Portrait of a Woman

Sir Peter Lely (Pieter van der Faes) Dutch, British

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 639

This sketch provides a good example of Lely’s working method as one of the most successful portraitists in England in the second half of the seventeenth century. Following the example of Anthony van Dyck, Lely painted only the sitter’s head in his or her presence, sometimes laying in an outline for the pose and costume. He then employed assistants to complete the drapery and background. For certain well-known sitters, Lely would retain his original head study to aid in the production of replicas. Because Lely assimilated his female sitters to a contemporary ideal of beauty, it can often be difficult to identify them today, as is the case with this unknown woman.

Study for a Portrait of a Woman, Sir Peter Lely (Pieter van der Faes) (British, Soest 1618–1680 London), Oil on canvas

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