Sir Peter Lely

Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, 1637 - 1671. First wife of James VII and II (About 1661)

About this artwork

Anne Hyde, daughter of Sir Edward Hyde, spent her childhood at the court of Princess Mary of Orange in Breda. In 1656 she accompanied Mary to her exiled brother Charles II's court in Paris, where she met the future James II. They fell in love and agreed to marry, but the couple encountered strong opposition from Charles and the queen mother, who loathed Anne's father. Eventually Charles relented and they were secretly married in 1660. Although by all accounts James adored his intelligent and sociable bride, he soon had a succession of mistresses which greatly distressed Anne. She nevertheless bore James eight children, two of whom – Mary and Anne – later became queens of Britain. Anne herself died of cancer many years before James's accession to the throne.

Sir Peter Lely

Sir Peter Lely

Lely was born in Soest, Germany, of Dutch parents. In 1637 he was registered as a pupil of Pieter de Grebber in his father's home town of Haarlem. He came to London in about 1643, and in 1647 painted the children of Charles I, in custody during the Civil War. By the end of the Commonwealth, he was the best-known portrait painter in England and, after the restoration of Charles II, he was appointed Principal Painter to the king in 1661. His society beauties are heavy-lidded and sensuous whilst his portraits of Admirals (National Maritime Museum) show a more serious side to his art. The output of his studio was huge, Lely relied heavily on assistants. He was knighted the year of his death.