Oil on canvas
50 x 40 ins.
The Strode family at Parnham House;
The Parnham House Sale, Christie’s, 12th December 1896;
Purchased by J.A. Oglander of Nunwell House, Isle of Wight;
Nunwell House Sale, Phillips, 17th & 18th September 1980 (lot 166);
Private Collection, England.
A note on the provenance.
The present painting remained in the family of the sitter for over two hundred years at the family seat of Parnham House in Dorset, after which time it was purchased, in 1896, by the direct descendants of the sitter’s son in-law, the Oglander family at Nunwell House on the Isle of Wight.
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We are grateful to Diana Dethloff for confirming the attribution to Sir Peter Lely following first hand inspection of the painting, and for suggesting a date of circa 1655.
This beautiful and richly painted portrait is a fine example of Lely’s early maturity, datable to the mid-1650s. The elegant and self-possessed demeanor of the sitter is complemented by Lely’s masterful colour harmonies of blue and silver, which shimmer against the foil of the somber landscape beyond. Stylistically, it may be compared to Lely’s portrait of the Perryer family of 1655 (formerly at Quebec House, Norfolk), one of the artist’s few signed and dated works.
Lady Anne was born in 1635, the daughter of Sir Thomas Browne, 2nd Baronet of Walcot in Northamptonshire. In 1653 she married John Poulett, 2nd Baron Poulett (1616 – 1665) of Hinton St George, by whom she had two children, John (3rd Baron), and Catherine. In 1669, following the death of her first husband, she married Sir John Strode (1624 – 1679) of Parnham House, Dorset, who was a royalist commissioner in the Civil War, and Member of Parliament for Dorset from 1661 – 1679. He was knighted in 1662.
Sir John and Lady Anne had one child, Elizabeth, who in 1702 married Sir William Oglander, 3rd Baronet, of Nunwell House on the Isle of Wight. In 1704 they had a son, Sir John Oglander, 4th Baronet, who duly succeeded to the Parnham estate on the death of his father.
The Strodes were an ancient family, apparently dating back to 1066 when Warinus de la Strode came to England with William the Conqueror. The family originally settled in Newnham in Devon, but in 1428 a branch of the Strodes acquired Parnham House and settled in Dorset.
The work of Sir Peter Lely is represented in numerous museums including the Hermitage, the Louvre, The Metropolitan Museum, the Tate Gallery, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, and the Royal Collection.
BIOGRAPHY OF SIR PETER LELY
Peter Lely, the son of a Dutch military officer, was born in Soest, Westphalia in 1618. Though his family name was van der Faes, he assumed the name Lely after the lily that was carved on the gable of his father’s home in The Hague. He studied in Haarlem under Frans Pieter de Grebber (under whose tutelage he is recorded in 1637) before moving to London in 1641. In 1647 he became a freeman of the Painter-Stainers’ Company.
Initially, Lely painted mythological scenes in the Netherlandish tradition, however he quickly recognised the strength of the English market for portraiture. By working for many of the patrons of the late Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Lely rapidly established himself as the most important portrait painter of the Restoration. In 1661 he was appointed Principal Painter to King Charles II and granted an annual pension of £200, ‘as formerly to Sr Vandyck’. He was knighted in 1680, and died at his easel in the same year, leaving behind one of England’s greatest private art collections which included works by Titian, Veronese and Van Dyck.
Lely absorbed the elegance of Van Dyck, marrying it with superb draughtsmanship, shimmering draperies, and richly textured colour harmonies. For years Lely had no serious rivals, and was enormously influential. From the mid 1660’s, demand for his portraiture became overwhelming, and he increasingly drew on a group of talented assistants (including Willem Wissing and John Greenhill) to complete the less important parts of a composition, including the backgrounds, and frequently also the draperies. Lely’s most famous works are his Windsor Beauties, a series of ten portraits of ladies commissioned by the Duke of York, and a comparable series painted for the Earl of Sunderland, preserved at Althorp.