Sir Peter Lely (Soest 1618-1680 London)
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION (LOTS 45, 47, 48, 57, 58 & 61)
Sir Peter Lely (Soest 1618-1680 London)

Portrait of Lady Mary Fane, later Countess of Exeter (1639-1681), three-quarter-length, in a brown dress and purple shawl

Sir Peter Lely (Soest 1618-1680 London)
Portrait of Lady Mary Fane, later Countess of Exeter (1639-1681), three-quarter-length, in a brown dress and purple shawl
oil on canvas
49 5/8 x 40 ½ in. (125.8 x 102.4 cm.)
with identifying inscription 'LADY Mary Fane' (lower left)
with Messrs. Dowdeswell, London, before 1912.
with Leggatt Bros., London (according to an inscription on the reverse).
Winifred Gordon, from whom purchased in 1992 by the following,
Professor and Mrs. Clifford Ambrose Truesdell, Baltimore; Christie’s, London, 28 January 2009, lot 31 ($68,000).
with Adam Williams Fine Art, New York, from whom acquired by the present owner.
The Morning Leader, 24 December 1894.
C.H. Collins Baker, Lely and the Stuart Portrait Painters, London, 1912, I, p. 166, note 5; II, p. 125, no. 64.
R.B. Beckett, Lely, London, 1951, p. 44, no. 183.
Special notice

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Lot Essay

Stylish and sophisticated, this portrait, with its relaxed pose, calm features and exquisitely painted silks, exemplifies the richness and sumptuous beauty of the works Lely painted during the early years of the Restoration in England.

The picture probably dates to the early or mid- 1660s, at around the time Lely was engaged in painting his famous ‘Windsor Beauties’. This series had been commissioned by Anne Hyde, Duchess of York (1637-1671) who ‘wished to have the portraits of the most beautiful women at Court. Lely painted them, devoted all his powers to the task and could not have worked on more lovely subjects’ (P. de Gramont, Mémoires, quoted in O. Millar, The Tudor, Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, London, 1963, I, p. 124). Originally consisting of eleven pictures, painted between circa 1662 and 1665, the pictures represent amongst the most famous and significant commissions in Lely’s career. In many respects, the present portrait of Lady Mary Fane can be seen as having been made concurrently with the group. Indeed, the modelling of the flesh tones and the treatment of the fabric of the sitter’s dress are certainly comparable with the ‘Beauties’. Likewise, the landscape backgrounds of the Windsor series also appear to have informed Lely’s portrait of Lady Fane.

The sitter was the eldest daughter of Mildmay Fane, 2nd Earl of Westmorland (1602-1666), M.P. for Peterborough in 1620, by his second wife, Mary de Vere. Fane had been a staunch supporter of the Royalist cause from the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642 and had been appointed as a Captain in the Prince of Wales's Regiment of Horse. Following the Restoration in 1660, he was made Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, and retired to Apethorpe, Northamptonshire. Lady Mary was married twice: firstly, to Francis Palmes of Ashwell, Rutland; and secondly, in 1670, to John Cecil, 4th Earl of Exeter, and lived at Burghley. She is buried in St Martin’s, Stamford.

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