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Barbara Palmer (née Villiers), Duchess of Cleveland

3 of 33 portraits of Barbara Palmer (née Villiers), Duchess of Cleveland

Barbara Palmer (née Villiers), Duchess of Cleveland, after Sir Peter Lely, (circa 1666) - NPG 387 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Barbara Palmer (née Villiers), Duchess of Cleveland

after Sir Peter Lely
oil on canvas, (circa 1666)
49 in. x 39 3/4 in. (1245 mm x 1010 mm)
Purchased, 1874
Primary Collection
NPG 387


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Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 831 portraits, Sitter in 18 portraits.

This portraitback to top

After her marriage to Roger Palmer, (afterwards the Earl of Castlemaine), Barbara Palmer met and greatly attracted Charles II. Their attachment was not interrupted by the king's marriage to Catherine of Braganza in 1662, who after strong protest received Lady Castlemaine as a Lady of the Bedchamber and was soon reconciled to her presence. In 1670, when his mistress's hold on the king was weakening, Charles became more generous and made her a Duchess. Between 1660 and 1675 she, amongst all the Court beauties, seems to have dominated the public imagination, and there was evidently heavy demand for copies and reproductions of her portraits. The Duchess appears in her portraits in a variety of guises: as the Madonna, in widow's weeds, as a shepherdess, as St Barbara and, in this portrait, as St Catherine.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Piper, David, Catalogue of Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1625-1714, 1963, p. 74
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 129

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