Peter Lely, Cimon and Iphigenia

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
Doddington Hall
Cimon and Iphigenia
Brown Parlour
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 128 cm, Overall width: 145 cm
Peter Lely (1618-1680)
Catalogue Number


The picture is one of several similar pastoral compositions by Lely featuring nymphs and shepherds, notably Nymphs by a Fountain at Dulwich Picture Gallery1 and another version of Cimon and Iphigenia at Knole, in Kent.2 In the present picture the pose of the semi-draped recumbent nymph facing the viewer is adapted from a similar figure in Van Dyck’s Cupid and Psyche in the Royal Collection Trust.3 The painting was acquired by Edward Delaval, and hung at his house in Parliament Place, Westminster, before being transferred to Doddington either under his period of ownership (1808–14), or following the death of his widow in 1829. The earlier provenance of the picture is unknown. It may have been the picture in Lely’s studio sale of 1680 described as The History of Cimon with Naked Figures (lot 83), although this may have been the picture of the same subject now at Knole.

Sir Oliver Millar, who viewed the picture at Doddington in 1952, commented at some length in his notebook:

‘Nymphs with Shepherds’: rather rubbed and worn in certain areas; eg in stone fountain, upper area behind shepherd, drapery in l. foreground. Considerable weakness in drawing of nymphs and in their relations to each other on the ground plan. Head of girl behind cannot be fitted in with anything. ? a dependence on ‘Cupid and Psyche’ in main female figure: rich brown and yellowish landscape lightly and fluidly painted, all rich and twilight. Shepherd in brown, girl nearest him in grey, white under her r. arm, pale blue drapery in lower l; deeper, cooler, stronger blue curtain lr. l. shepherd’s head is rich and full and juicy, creamy lights, warmer half-tones, pinkish-grey [coloured?] more 2nd mouth; drawing of two women on r, but woman on l. is better. Foot over calf is well and juicily drawn but quite detached. Curtain thinly painted with coarse lights and shadows. A pleasant pastoral scene; drawing of main group v. inadequate & immature. probably c.1648–52. Head of shepherd is like old man in ‘Susanna’ (even [if] later on) but woman cannot be later than c.1652.4

by Martin Postle


R.E.G. Cole, History of Doddington, otherwise Doddington-Pigot, in the County of Lincoln, and its successive owners, with pedigrees, Lincoln : James Williamson, 1897, p. 225

Peter Lely: A Lyrical Vision, ed. Caroline Campbell, London : The Courtauld Gallery, 2012, pp. 132–5, no. 11

Matthew C. Hunter, Wicked Intelligence: Visual Art and the Science of Experiment in Restoration London, University of Chicago Press, 2013, pp. 106–7, pl. 4

Esther van der Hoorn and Morgan Wylder, 'A Historical and Technical Investigation of Sir Peter Lely’s Cimon and Efigenia from the Collection at Doddington Hall', 2013


  1. DPG 555.

  2. Knole, Kent, NT 129850.

  3. RCIN 405571.

  4. Oliver Millar Notebook VIII, f. 95, Paul Mellon Centre Collection.


Related catalogue items from Doddington Hall

  • Castle Howard Doddington Hall

    Dutch Man-o-War Entering the Harbour at Boulogne

    English School, ? later 17th century

  • Castle Howard Doddington Hall

    Anne Hussey Delaval, Lady Stanhope, and Sir John Delaval in a Performance of 'The Fair Penitent' by Nicholas Rowe

    attributed to Benjamin Wilson, ? 1767

  • Castle Howard Doddington Hall

    George Eden Jarvis

    Robert Antoine Müller, 1878