Saturday, 26 February 2011

Louise de Kérouaille

Here's another item in a Christie's sale, this time in London on 20 March: Portrait of Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth (ca 1672) by the Studio of Sir Peter Lely. Christie's describes this as the "star piece" of its auction of property of the late Amanda Caroline Severne of Shakenhurst. The painting is filthy, so I've tweaked its contrast and gamma settings to bring out some of its detail. It appears to be a studio copy of a painting by Sir Peter Lely now owned by The J. Paul Getty Trust (CLICK). The Getty version is clearly by a master who captured the hard, calculating look of this beauty, whereas the version in the Christie's sale is merely a portrait of a beautiful young woman. A later portrait by Pierre Mignard also caught that calculating stare and showed her greed with a black slave-girl offering her a cornucopia of pearls, highly prized at that time (CLICK). An essay in New Zealand Art Monthly compares the Lely version, adding to the title "as a Shepherdess", with a portrait by Henry Gascard (CLICK). Louise was the favourite mistress of King Charles II of England. Born in Brittany, she was almost certainly employed by Louis XIV of France. She received titles and wealth from both countries. Incredibly, through her illegitimate son by Charles II - Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond - she is the ancestress of the two women Prince Charles has married: the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and Camilla Parker-Bowles (CLICK).


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