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Sir Peter Lely ( 1616 - 1680 )  Category ( Painters ) [suggest a correction]

Sir Peter LelySir Peter Lely was a seventeenth-century Dutch-born artist who achieved fame painting in England. He is considered by many to be the most popular portrait artist in England during the period. He was born Pieter van der Faes to Dutch parents in Westphalia. His father was a military officer. Lely began artistic study as a young man, and may have worked as an apprentice to artist Pieter de Grebber. While there is no definitive answer as to why he changed his name to Lely, contemporary evidence suggests he took the name from a heraldic lily that ornamented a gable on the house in which his father was born.

Lely traveled to England in 1641, and began his career in art. At first he focused on religious paintings, or works with a mythological theme. His early portraits were set in the popular pastoral landscape setting. Within six years he had drawn the attention of King Charles I, who appointed him court portrait artist. Usually artists associated with a rejected regime lose their prestige and even careers, but Lely managed to hang on to his popularity and acceptability when Oliver Cromwell's regime was ushered in following the regicide of Charles I. Cromwell himself commissioned Lely to paint his portrait, insisting the artist paint him realistically, “warts and all.” When Charles II returned to England upon the restoration of the monarchy, Lely remained in his position of court portraitist. Charles was so impressed with Lely's talent that he granted him a stipend and granted him British citizenship. His paintings were in such demand that he kept a stable of artists constantly at work. Lely himself would paint the head, and his students would complete the portrait in one of a number of set poses. He was largely responsible for introducing and popularizing the mezzotint to Britain. Charles II granted Lely a knighthood in 1680, and he died not long after receiving that honor. He collapsed while working at his easel in Covent Garden. Lely not only loved his profession, he collected the works of others. He owned a number of Old Masters, including works by Titian, Claude Lorrain, Rubens, and others. His own work can be seen today in a number of internationally acclaimed museums, including the National Portrait Gallery in London, Hampton Court Palace, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Image: Mezzotint engraving of Lely by Isaac Beckett and John Smith, ca. 1684.

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Title :Biography
Description : Biography of LELY, Sir Peter (b. 1618, Soest, d. 1680, London) in the Web Gallery of Art, a searchable image collection and database of European paintings and sculptures (1100-1850)
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