Portrait of Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth c.1671; by Mary Beale.

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Price £11,450.00
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The Duchess lounges sensously on the ground, in an Arcadian landscape....she holds a shepherd's crook, a lamb by her side. This is possibly the first time Lely used this pose which he was to use many times.
Louise demonstrates her new status amongst the most elevated at Court by wearing a daring 'undress'...this was a means of demonstrating one's superiority.

She was highly successful in her career as a mistress, and as an agent in the interest of King Louis XIV. She had first come to England in 1670 as a Maid of Honour to the Duchess of Orleans, the King’s sister. When the Duchess died in that year, Louis sent her back to England in order to captivate the King, whose mistress she became in the following year. She was the most absolute of the mistresses, and remained with the King until his death. Charles’s obligation to Louis was considerable — he received a pension from the French king in consequence of the Secret Treaty of 1670 — and neither this money nor Louise de Kerouaille let him forget it. In 1674 she was created Baroness Petersfield, Countess of Fareham and Duchess of Portsmouth.

Her conduct of her position was highly accomplished, and she ensured amid moments of strong anti-Catholic feeling, such as the Popish Plot, that she was friends not only with the Duke of York, as might be expected, but with the Earl of Shaftesbury, the Prince of Orange and the Duke of Monmouth. At the King’s death she lived in England until 1688, when returned to France. She spent the rest of her life in considerable financial difficulties, having spent the fortune that she received from Charles on gambling and extravagance. She was the longest-lived of the mistresses, dying in France in 1734. The Dukes of Richmond are descended from her.

MARY BEALE 1632-1697.
Beale's oeuvre is best-known for its scale-of-life portraits of her friends and contemporaries. Works such as the present painting represent a third and further aspect of her work, in which she produced copies of paintings by Sir Peter Lely with a mind both to an understanding of his technique as well as to the marketablity of the product.

This portrait of the Duchess of Portsmouth belongs to a particular category of these copies, which are distinguished by a reduction in scale and by the employment of a more meticulous technique and often costlier pigments than found in her larger canvasses. The present portrait, a ''pin-up'' of a current Royal mistress, is plainly of a commercial subject, and would have justified the comparatively high price of its execution -perhaps as much as £11.
The original was commissioned by Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland in 1671 and is still at Althorp. This painting might have been painted by Mary Beale from Lely's original before its collection by the client, or, according to a further theory concerning these small pictures, from the client's painting as a duplicate to hang in a townhouse whilst the large paintings went to the country.

Following the Windsor Beauties series, there was a great fashion in the second half of the seventeenth century in the collection of portraits of prominent women famous for their beauty and scandalous behaviour. As well as the eleven portraits listed in 1674 from the Windsor Series there were other recorded sets, most prominent among them belonging to Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland.

SIZE:32.5 x 27.25 inches inc. frame.
PROVENANCE: Private Collection for many years.