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Peter Lely's portrait of Oliver Cromwell

921 of 1160 nominations


Peter Lely's portrait of Oliver Cromwell

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Peter Lely's portrait of Oliver Cromwell

"I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all the roughness, pimples, warts and everything, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it." There can't be many historical portrait subjects who would give such blunt, almost coarse, instructions to their painter. But then the subject was Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England from 1653 until his death in 1658, a man not known for being fainthearted in word or deed. The artist to whom he gave this order – the same year he took power – was Sir Peter Lely, who had succeeded Anthony van Dyck as England's leading portrait painter in the second half of the 17th century. Dutch-born Lely managed to survive the perilous tides of political change that swept the country: he was patronised by Charles I and, after the King's execution, he served under Cromwell and his son, before Charles II appointed him Principal Painter in Ordinary in 1660. His most famous works for this King were the "Windsor Beauties", a series of portraits of Court women – without warts'n'all.


Your comments

Because it is 'warts and all'

julian nevell

No-one can deny Cromwell's significance in English history, and this portrait of him is one everyone knows, even if they don't know they know it.
The Rev. David Boulton

I have only one word to say to you, Great.
Stephanie Knight

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I nominate the red pillar box.

Donna Spencer