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Eleanor ('Nell') Gwyn

5 of 28 portraits of Nell Gwyn

Eleanor ('Nell') Gwyn, by Gerard Valck, after  Sir Peter Lely, circa 1673 - NPG D10959 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Eleanor ('Nell') Gwyn

by Gerard Valck, after Sir Peter Lely
line engraving, circa 1673
13 3/4 in. x 10 3/8 in. (348 mm x 264 mm) paper size
acquired Unknown source, 1950
Reference Collection
NPG D10959

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Sitterback to top

  • Eleanor ('Nell') Gwyn (1651?-1687), Actress; mistress of Charles II. Sitter associated with 28 portraits.

Artistsback to top

  • Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 829 portraits, Sitter in 18 portraits.
  • Gerard Valck (1651 or 1652-1726). Artist associated with 32 portraits.

This portraitback to top

She is shown here as a shepherdess garlanding a lamb, a pose that Lely often employed in the 1670s. But while there is almost never any distinction between the poses Lely used to portray respectable women and those of more dubious reputations, portraits that include bare breasts seem exclusively to depict mistresses.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 3811: Eleanor ('Nell') Gwyn (from same plate)
  • NPG D11443: Mary (née Kirke), Lady Vernon (based on same portrait)
  • NPG 3976: Unknown woman, formerly known as Eleanor ('Nell') Gwyn (after)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Perry, Gill (introduction) Roach, Joseph (appreciation) and West, Shearer (appreciation), The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 2011 to 8 January 2012), p. 67