Sir Peter Lely

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Sir Peter Lely

by Sir Peter Lely
oil on canvas, circa 1660
42 1/2 in. x 34 1/2 in. (1080 mm x 876 mm)
Purchased, 1954
Primary Collection
NPG 3897

Sitterback to top

  • Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), Portrait painter. Sitter in 19 portraits, Artist or producer associated with 843 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), Portrait painter. Artist or producer associated with 843 portraits, Sitter in 19 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • The British Portrait, 1660-1960, 1991, p. 82 number 75
  • Catharine MacLeod, Van Dyck: The Last Self Portrait, 2014, p. 25
  • Catharine Macleod, Van Dyck : the last self-portrait, 2015, p. 24
  • Cooper, John, Visitor's Guide, 2000, p. 40
  • Foskett, Daphne, Samuel Cooper, 1974 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 15 March - 15 June 1974), p. 126
  • John Cooper, National Portrait Gallery Visitor's Guide, 2006, p. 40
  • Ollard, Richard, Character Sketches: Samuel Pepys and His Circle, 2000, p. 55
  • Ollard, Richard, Pepys and his Contemporaries, 2015, p. 81
  • Rideal, Liz, Insights: Self-portraits, 2005, p. 69 Read entry

    Lely was both a portrait painter and an art collector. He came to London from Holland in the 1640s and worked throughout the Civil War and interregnum. In 1660 he was formally appointed Principal Painter to Charles II.

  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 66
  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 66 Read entry

    Lely's self-portrait is the best surviving image of him around the time of the Restoration, when he was appointed Principal Painter to Charles II. He is known to have been a collector, particularly of drawings and shows himself with a small figurine clutched in his left hand, to indicate his status as a connoisseur. Pepys called him 'a mighty proud man, and full of state', and this is certainly his character as suggested by this portrait.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 376

Events of 1660back to top

Current affairs

The Convention Parliament and Lords proclaim Charles II king after he issues a declaration from Breda offering an indemnity to those who had committed crimes against the crown during the civil war and Interregnum. Charles lands at Dover from The Hague on 25th May to great pomp and ceremony.

Art and science

Diarist Samuel Pepys starts his diary on 1st January, writing in shorthand. The diary became a unique social document, opening with a brief summary of his domestic situation and the political background.
Dutch portrait painter, Peter Lely, is appointed principal painter to Charles II.
Official foundation of the Royal Society.


The Anglo-Spanish War, begun by Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, formally ends after the restoration of the British monarchy and peace is made with Philip IV of Spain.

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