7 of 30 portraits of 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
Sitterback to top
- Eleanor ('Nell') Gwyn (1651?-1687), Actress; mistress of Charles II. Sitter associated with 30 portraits.
Artistsback to top
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
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
Events of 1673back to top
Current affairsControversially, 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 sciencePoet 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.
InternationalWar 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.
Become a Member
Enjoy access to special events, discounts on the Gallery online shop, supporters’ updates and much more
Bringing people together by sharing the portraits and stories of the men and women who have shaped our nation.
Sign up to recieve information on exhibitions, collections and activities of the National Portrait Gallery, including special offers, shop products, and exclusive competitions.
- Painted Ladies: Women at the Court of Charles II
- The Diary Room: Characters of the 17th Century
- The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons
- Catherine Sedley
- Alexander Browne and Richard Tompson
- Restoration Lives: Samuel Pepys and His Circle
- Handlist of names in the Reference Collection
- Duchess of Cleveland Appeal
- Handlist of names in the Reference Collection - M-Z
- Barbara Villiers
- 2018 Anniversaries
Tell us more
Framed & unframed prints