I am trying to determine provence and sitter information for a painting.
This painting [http://img216.imageshack.us/img216/8817/lelyvilliersdf8.jpg] was
acquired at auction from Sotheby's in London on 13 October 2004. It
measures 27 1/2 inches high by 22 5/8 inches wide (69.9 cm x 57.5 cm)
and was listed in the auction catalog (British and Continental
Pictures, Sale W04713, Lot 7) as "Circle of Peter Lely, Portrait of a
Lady." Further info provided by Sotheby's stated that the sitter was
"thought to be Barbara Palmer [Villiers]". (Barbara Villiers was the
Duchess of Cleveland and mistress to Charles II.)
Subsequent investigation and discussions with Lely experts at Birkbeck College,
London, the National Portrait Gallery, London, and Yale University
leads me to believe that Villiers is not the sitter, though there is a
strong resemblance. Apparently, this resemblance is because Villiers
was very popular, and many sitters were painted to look like her ?
especially in Lely portraits.
Prior to the October 2004 Sotheby's auction, the painting was auctioned by
Sotheby's in the Collonade sale of 29 Sep 1993 (as lot 442), and I've
been told (by Sotheby's) that it came from a large private estate and
with the title "Barbara Palmer".
Analysis at Birkbeck College of the blue paint in the portrait
indicates the presence of Prussian Blue, but of an early form, dating
the painting to about 1704-06.
Research has also brought to light a portrait in the National Portrait Gallery,
London collection with the same pose and props, though with a slightly different
This painting is a Lely portrait of an unknown sitter, "formerly known
as Elizabeth, Countess Grammont". In any case, she is not Villiers,
nor is she the same sitter as in the painting that I am investigating.
I have been told that it is not unusual to have two paintings with
such similarities, as this was quite common, particularly for Lely and
I will pay $25 plus a tip for any documented information confirming
the identity of the sitter, or alternatively for any documented
information confirming previous ownership of this painting.