Barbara Villiers was Charles II's leading mistress in the early years of his reign and became Duchess of Cleveland in 1670.

This portrait depicts the King's mistress with her eldest son by the King, Charles Fitzroy, later created Duke of Southampton and then Duke of Cleveland. It is the most audacious of Lely's role portraits as it depicts the mistress and illegitimate son as Madonna and Child. This work was acquired with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation.

Provenance

Ladislaus Bloch, Vienna; Frederick Muller, Amsterdam (auction house), 1905; ...; Messrs Shepherd; Messrs Dowdeswell before 1912; ...; Galerie Fischer, Lucern, 1990; Walter Küng; Alfred Bader Fine Arts, 2001.


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