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Arthur Capel, 1st Earl of Essex; Elizabeth, Countess of Essex

2 of 12 portraits of Arthur Capel, 1st Earl of Essex

Arthur Capel, 1st Earl of Essex; Elizabeth, Countess of Essex, by Sir Peter Lely, circa 1655-1660 - NPG 5461 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Arthur Capel, 1st Earl of Essex; Elizabeth, Countess of Essex

by Sir Peter Lely
oil on canvas, circa 1655-1660
50 1/8 in. x 67 3/8 in. (1274 mm x 1712 mm)
Purchased, 1981
Primary Collection
NPG 5461


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Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 826 portraits, Sitter in 18 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The Earl holds a sword, the symbol of his military prowess, while the glass globe in the Countess's lap is probably intended to symbolise the fragility of human affairs. The classical bust in the background perhaps represents a Stoic philosopher, and underlines the portrait's moral tone.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 209
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 53