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Barbara Palmer, née Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland with her son, Charles Fitzroy, as Madonna and Child

Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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Barbara Villiers was effectively Lely's muse, her looks the inspiration for his type of female beauty. A contemporary commented that 'he put something of Cleveland's face as her Languishing Eyes into every one Picture, so that all his pictures had an Air one of another, all the Eyes were Sleepy alike'. Lely himself is said to have commented 'that it was beyond the compass of art to give this lady her due, as to her sweetness and exquisite beauty'.

National Portrait Gallery, London


  • Date


  • Medium

    oil on canvas

  • Measurements

    124.7 x 102 cm

  • Accession number


  • Acquisition method

    Purchased with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, through the Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation), Camelot Group plc, David and Catharine Alexander, David Wilson, E. A. Whitehead, Glyn Hopkin and numerous other supporters of a public appeal including members of the Chelsea Arts Club, 2005


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Normally on display at

National Portrait Gallery, London

St Martin’s Place, London, Greater London WC2H 0HE England

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