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King William III

King William III, by Sir Peter Lely, based on a work of circa 1677 -NPG 1902 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

King William III

studio of Sir Peter Lely
based on a work of circa 1677
49 in. x 39 3/4 in. (1245 mm x 1010 mm) overall
NPG 1902

This portraitback to top

A studio version of the Lely presumed to have been painted during William’s visit to England between 9 October and 28 November 1677 to marry Princess Mary on 14 November. It is an unexpected bridal portrait. [1] Many versions survive (cf. C. Blackett-Ord, ‘Richard Tompson’, Wal. Soc., LXX, 2008, p 33) and it is not clear which may be the original; they include those in the Rijksmuseum (A879 and A1228), at Gripsholm (1193), Holkham (without the dog and the baton pointing upwards), Welbeck (R. W. Goulding, Catalogue of Pictures belonging to … the Duke of Portland …, C. K. Adams ed., 1936, no.156), in the Luttrellstown Castle sale, Christie’s, 26 September 1983, lot 499, [2] and at Huis ten Bosch (389). [3] A reduced copy attributed to Netscher is in the Landesmuseum, Mainz. [4] It was engraved in reverse, published by R. Tompson (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 37; C. Blackett-Ord, ‘Richard Tompson’, Wal. Soc., LXX, 2008, T.71, fig.65), and there are related bust-length engravings, lettered after Lely, by A. Blooteling 1678 (F. W. H. Hollstein, Dutch & Flemish Etchings Engravings and Woodcuts 1450-1700, 197, illus.), G. Valck 1680 (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 6; F. W. H. Hollstein, Dutch & Flemish Etchings Engravings and Woodcuts 1450-1700, 64, illus.) and another published by R. Tompson (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 36; C. Blackett-Ord, ‘Richard Tompson’, Wal. Soc., LXX, 2008, T.70, fig.64). Variants include:
right hand on hip and helmet in the left background, the baton pointing upwards, engraving published by A. Browne by 1684 (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 28; S. Turner, ‘Alexander Browne’, Wal. Soc., LXX, 2008, B.52, fig.123). A good version at Syon House, [5] and others were sold Christie’s, 9 December 1955, lot 237 (with damascened armour), and Sotheby’s, 29 October 1958, lot 50. An unattributed miniature is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (608-1882) [6]
whole-length standing in damascened armour, left hand resting on helmet which is turned towards the viewer, the baton in his right hand pointing upwards; version in the Mauritshuis (231), [7] and half-lengths formerly at Quidenham [8] and Revesby, [9] and sold Parsons, Welch & Cowell, Sevenoaks, 16 May 1973; Christie’s, 16 October 1953, lot 153 (from Panshanger), 24 May 1974, lot 253, and 22 November 1974, lot 191 [10]
a later, post-1689, type, the helmet replaced by a crown, represented at Berkeley Castle (inscribed by Wessing and Wyck); Beverweerd Castle (formerly); the Alkmaar Museum (15), [11] and sold Sotheby’s, Amsterdam, 5 November 2002, lot 234
The standard three-quarter-length Lely pattern closely resembling the portrait subsequently produced by Lely’s pupil Wissing, but which may be distinguished by the somewhat younger looking head, the dog (bottom centre left) and by the visor of the helmet which faces right. In the Wissing pattern there is no dog, the visor faces left and William wears the Garter ribbon. [12] In both patterns battles rage in the background illustrative of William’s military determination (sometimes extravagantly associated with specific actions).
The Lely head was subsequently imposed at least three times on different figures. [13]

Footnotesback to top

1) Described as Lely’s wedding portrait, for example, by N. A. Robb, William of Orange 1674-1702, 1966, p 125.
2) Further versions are recorded in the Cavendish-Bentinck sale, Christie’s, 28 March 1947, lot 27; with Sir John Hanbury Williams in 1934, and at the Westfries Museum, Hoorn (A89).
3) Illus. S. B. Baxter, William III, 1966, p 192.
4) Where paired with an equally small copy of the Lely of Mary II (cf. NPG 6214) which is inscribed C. Netscher. A similar pair sold Sotheby’s, 13 April 1983, lot 35, and 12 October 1983, lot 128.
5) Exhibited William and Mary, Arts Council, 1950, no.29; Age of Charles II, RA, 1960, no.373. See Mary II NPG 6214.
6) J. Murdoch, Seventeenth-century English Miniatures in the Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1997, no.200.
7) A. Staring, ‘De Portretten van den Koning-Stadhouder’, Nederlandsch. Kunsthistorisch. Jaarboek, III, 1951, pl.22.
8) Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, Portraits in Norfolk Houses, II, p 162, no.63.
9) Sir George Scharf’s Sketch Books, 101:38.
10) Another of this type is in the Royal Armouries, Leeds, attributed to Wissing (WYI I.40; illus. The Public Catalogue Foundation, West Yorks., 2004, p 67).
11) As listed by D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, p 378.
12) One cannot, however, be too dogmatic, e.g. an anonymous engraving showing the Lely head, without the Garter ribbon, is lettered Wissing Pinxit. G. Vertue, Notebooks, Wal. Soc., XX, 1932 p 122, recorded an engraving by Smith, ‘a whole length with a dog ... Wissing p.’
13) E.g. the whole-length as a Garter Knight with cap in hand at Attingham Park (55 as Kneller; comparable with Lely’s Charles II at Euston); seated in Garter robes with the crown on the left (Ulster Museum); standing three-quarter-length in Garter robes, left elbow on plinth (Chirk Castle).

Referenceback to top

Beckett 1951
R. B. Beckett, Lely, 1951, no.566 as c.1670.

Piper 1963
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, p 377 as after Lely.

Provenanceback to top

E. A. Stanley, Melton Mowbray, from whom purchased 1921 (as after J. Vollevens the elder).


This extended catalogue entry is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Later Stuart Portraits 1685-1714, National Portrait Gallery, 2009, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

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