circle of Peter Lely, Princess Mary, later Queen Mary II

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
Doddington Hall
Princess Mary, later Queen Mary II
? c.1677
Brown Parlour
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 115 cm, Overall width: 118 cm
circle of Peter Lely (1618-1680)
Catalogue Number


The present portrait has been identified traditionally as Eleanor (‘Nell’) Gwyn (1651?–1687), actress and mistress of Charles II, who is associated speculatively with numerous portraits of anonymous young female courtesans and actresses. However, the resemblance of the present sitter to verifiable portraits of Nell Gwyn, notably those by Simon Verelst, indicates that the identification is untenable. Rather, it is suggested here, the sitter is Mary (1662–1694), eldest daughter of James, Duke of York, later James II, and Anne Hyde. In 1677 Mary married Prince William of Orange. She ascended the throne as Queen Mary II, jointly with her husband, in 1689. Comparison with a similar portrait in the National Portrait Gallery by Sir Peter Lely of Mary, aged fifteen, around the time of her marriage (fig. 1) would appear to confirm the identification.1 The present portrait is attributed here to the circle of Lely on stylistic grounds, and on the comparison with the portrait of Princess Mary in the National Portrait Gallery.

circa 1677. Oil on canvas, 125.4 × 101.9 cm. National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 6214).

Figure 1.
Sir Peter Lely, Queen Mary II, circa 1677. Oil on canvas, 125.4 × 101.9 cm. National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 6214).

Digital image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, London (All rights reserved)

by Martin Postle


  1. NPG 6214.


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