Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Grafton

1 portrait

Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Grafton, circle of Sir Peter Lely, circa 1673 - NPG 2915 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Grafton

circle of Sir Peter Lely
chalk, circa 1673
10 1/2 in. x 8 1/8 in. (267 mm x 206 mm)
Purchased, 1937
Primary Collection
NPG 2915

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  • Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 842 portraits, Sitter in 19 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Sir Peter Lely's commercial success with black and red chalk drawings encouraged other British artists to take up the medium. His influence can be seen in this sensitive example by an unknown follower. The sitter, Henry Fitzroy was the illegitimate son of Charles II and wears a costume loosely based on Roman dress. This sort of fancy dress was popular in portraits to depict sitters as heirs to Roman culture and military brilliance. This image depicts Fitzroy at the age of about fifteen, a few years after he became a duke.

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Events of 1673back to top

Current affairs

Controversially, James, Duke of York marries a Catholic, Mary of Modena, daughter of Alfonso IV, Duke of Modena. Parliament passes anti-Catholic legislation, the Test Act, which excludes recusants from public office. Officials are required to take an oath and deny the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.

Art and science

Poet laureate, John Dryden, influenced by the war against Holland, writes Amboyna, a tragedy about the Amboyna massacre,1623, when English sailors were murdered by Dutch traders in Indonesia. The Chelsea Physic Garden is established by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries to train apprentices in plant identification.


War with Holland culminates in the Battle of Texel which effectively exhausts both sides, but results in a strategic Dutch victory. With tension mounting between the allies, lord of the Admiralty, Prince Rupert, blames the unsatisfactory outcome on French admiral d'Estrees, and poor provisions.

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