Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland

Engraver Isaac Beckett British
After Sir Godfrey Kneller German
Sitter Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland British

Not on view

Mezzotint, a tonal method of printmaking, was invented in Germany in 1642 and introduced to Britain by Dutch engravers. Beckett was first great native-born Englishman to practice the technique, producing just over than a hundred prints between 1681 and his early death in 1688. Most of these are portraits, many after leading painters such as Sir Peter Lely and Sir Godfrey Kneller. This example represents Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland, who was mistress to Charles II betweem 1659 and the early 1670s, and made a duchess by him in 1670. Here, she is posed to artfully display her ermine robe and, in this second state, a long curl has been added across her right shoulder.

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