Friday, August 15, 2014

Windsor Beauties

Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland

Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680) made many large paintings for the court of Charles II. This series was painted between 1662 and 1665, a set of commissions from Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, wife of the King's brother. Samuel Pepys saw these Windsor Beauties, as they were called, in 1668 

". . . did first see the Duke of York's room of pictures of some Maids of Honor, done by Lilly: good, but not like."

The paintings are today in the collection of Queen Elizabeth II. The curators at the Royal Collection explain that Pepys found the pictures of high quality, but thought they did not much resemble the ladies who sat for them. It was said at the time that all the faces and figures were modeled on the personal style and appearance of Barbara Villiers, at top, the King's principal mistress of the day.

Anne Digby, Countess of Sunderland

Elizabeth Hamilton, Countess of Gramont

Elizabeth Wriothesley, Countess of Northumberland

Frances Brooke, Lady Whitmore

Henrietta Boyle, Countess of Rochester

Jane Needham, Mrs. Middleton

Margaret Brooke, Lady Durham

Mary Bagot, Countess of Falmouth and Dorset

Frances Stuart, Duchess of Richmond

Of all the courtiers pictured, only Frances Stuart (above) was actually a Maid of Honor. The Duchess of York, patron of the series, was herself painted in the same style (below).

Anne Hyde, Duchess of York