Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680): Master of Elegance in English Portraiture

Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680) was a prominent Dutch painter who became one of the leading portrait artists in England during the mid-17th century. He was born as Pieter van der Faes on September 14, 1618, in Soest, Dutch Republic (now Netherlands).

Lely received his artistic training in Haarlem, where he studied under the renowned painter Pieter de Grebber. In 1641, he moved to England and quickly gained recognition for his skillful and flattering portrait paintings. His reputation as a portraitist grew rapidly, and he was appointed the Principal Painter to the King, Charles II, in 1661, which earned him the title of "Sir."

Lely's portraits were characterized by their elegance, charm, and sensitivity to capturing the sitter's likeness. He often portrayed his subjects in a relaxed and informal manner, which was a departure from the more formal and stiff styles of portrait painting common in the era. Lely's approach appealed to the tastes of the English aristocracy and contributed to his success as a court painter.

During his career, Lely painted numerous portraits of members of the English nobility, courtiers, and society figures, including King Charles II and his mistresses. His work became highly sought after, and he received a steady stream of commissions from the English elite.

In addition to portraits, Lely also painted historical and mythological scenes. He demonstrated versatility in his art, adapting his style to suit the preferences of his patrons and the changing artistic trends of the time.

Lely's impact on English art was significant, and he played a crucial role in popularizing the genre of portrait painting during the Restoration period. His legacy extended beyond his own works, as he also influenced subsequent generations of British portrait painters.

Sadly, Sir Peter Lely passed away on November 30, 1680, in London. Although he is no longer with us, his contributions to the art world, especially in the realm of portraiture, continue to be appreciated and admired to this day. His portraits provide a fascinating insight into the lives and fashions of the English aristocracy during the Restoration era.
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