Lady Elizabeth Howard (1656–1681), Lady Felton, as Cleopatra

Image credit: National Trust Images

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Cleopatra held a banquet for her lover Mark Antony, and when he expressed surprise at its magnificence she removed a priceless pearl from her ear and dissolved it in her glass of wine which she then drank. This was, apparently, to indicate her indifference to luxury. Lady Felton, in a suggestive pose and wearing loose clothing, plucks one of her large pearl earrings and we suppose she is going to place it in the gold goblet she is holding. The sitter is the wife of Sir Thomas Felton, 4th Baronet, Comptroller of the Household to Charles II's Queen, Catherine of Braganza. The Queen particularly patronised this Catholic artist in England. Lady Elizabeth married Felton, a small but excellent horseman, against her parents wishes in 1675. According to the artist's records, her portrait was painted for the Duke of Monmouth (she was probably his mistress) in 1678/1679.

National Trust, Kingston Lacy

Wimborne Minster


Lady Elizabeth Howard (1656–1681), Lady Felton, as Cleopatra




oil on canvas


H 114.5 x W 84 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

bequeathed by Ralph Bankes, 1981

Work type



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National Trust, Kingston Lacy

Wimborne Minster, Dorset BH21 4EA England

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