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Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester

1 of 12 portraits of Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester

Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester, studio of Sir Peter Lely, (circa 1675) - NPG 36 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester

studio of Sir Peter Lely
oil on canvas, (circa 1675)
49 1/2 in. x 39 1/2 in. (1257 mm x 1003 mm)
Purchased, 1858
Primary Collection
NPG 36

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Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 829 portraits, Sitter in 18 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Known for her vivacious personality, Catherine Sedley was a member of the court of Charles II where she won the devotion of James, Duke of York. She was astonished at his passion, saying: 'It cannot be my beauty, for he must see I have none; and it cannot be my wit, for he has not enough to know that I have any'. She became his mistress, however, and was made a countess after James's accession to the throne. Although there is good evidence to suggest that this is the Countess of Dorchester, Lely's portraits of the women at Charles II's court all approximate to one fashionable face. This pose and setting, showing the sitter in a rocky landscape, was one of the artist's favourite designs.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D18790: Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester (after)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Foskett, Daphne, Samuel Cooper, 1974 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 15 March - 15 June 1974), p. 128
  • Ingamells, John, Later Stuart Portraits 1685-1714, 2009, p. 73
  • Piper, David, Catalogue of Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1625-1714, 1963, p. 110
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 183