“Lely’s elegant subject pictures have such a strong sense of sophistication and poetry” The Telegraph
“This is a bonne bouche of an exhibition, a delicious morsel.”
Brian Sewell, Evening Standard
“Revelatory…this surprising display feels as if it has discovered a whole new artist”
The Sunday Times
“This show casts fresh light on the artist at the heart of Restoration fashion”
Peter Lely was England’s leading painter from the period of the Civil War to the reign of Charles II.
Known principally for his portraits of court beauties, Lely devoted his early career to ambitious paintings of figures in idyllic landscapes.
This exhibition was the first to examine this remarkable but forgotten group of early paintings.
Depicting a sensuous pastoral world of shepherds, nymphs and musicians, these pictures are all the more extraordinary for having been painted during the turmoil of the English Civil War and its aftermath.
This exhibition, which ran from 11 October 2012 to 13 January 2013, gathered together some of the most beautiful and seductive paintings made in 17th-century England.
Read a blog post about curating Peter Lely: A Lyrical Vision by Dr Caroline Campbell.
Lead Sponsor James Stunt
Sponsor Friends of The Courtauld
Peter Lely: The Draughtsman and his Collection
24 September 2012 – 13 January 2013
In addition to achieving renown as a painter, Peter Lely amassed one of England’s first great collections of drawings.
A display of a selection of drawings from Lely’s collection was on view in The Courtauld Gallery to complement the exhibition Peter Lely: A Lyrical Vision.
Lely’s own drawings were displayed alongside works from his collection. Primarily hand and drapery studies, these delicate sketches provide a glimpse into Lely’s practice as a portraitist. A special highlight is his Two heralds in ceremonial dress, a beautiful and highly detailed costume study of figures in a procession of the Order of the Garter (detail above).
Taken together, these drawings reveal a more private side of Lely, as worthy of exploration as his sparkling paintings.
Read a blog post about Peter Lely: The Draughtsman and His Collection by Dr Rachel Sloan, Assistant Curator of Works on Paper.