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George Villiers, 4th Viscount Grandison C.1675, By Sir Peter Lely.


£17,800 | $24,806 USD | €20,744 EUR
Item Number: SA756930
Date of manufacture: 17th Century
Current Status: For sale
Seller: Roy Precious - Antiques & Fine Art
This antique has been viewed 76 times in the past month with the most views from the United States.


For years both the sitter and the artist of this superb portrait were unknown. Diligent research by the art historian Simon van Oostende revealed that the sitter is George Villiers, 4th Viscount Grandison and that the painting is an autograph work by King Charles IIís court portrait-painter Sir Peter Lely Ė subsequently confirmed by the Lely experts Diana Dethloff and Catharine MacLeod.
Most probably upon the sitterís request, Lely modelled Lord Grandisonís portrait directly on the one he painted of King Charles II in circa 1675: shown half-length, turned a quarter to the left, wearing a polished breastplate over a gold-embroidered doublet with a lace cravat and heavily curled black full-bottomed wig.
This portrait of Charles II proved enormously popular and many versions of it, as well as mezzotint reproductions by Edward Luttrell and Abraham Blooteling. The prime, autograph version of this portrait is in the collection of the Duke of Grafton at Euston Hall (the first Duke was a natural son of Charles II and his mistress Barbara Villiers). A good version hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, coming from the collection of the Earls of Chesterfield.
Lord Grandisonís portrait differs from King Charlesís portrait in the colour of the wig Ė Grandisonís is greyish brown rather than black Ė and the beautifully painted feigned sculpted oval frame decorated with pieces of fruit and leaves. Lely used a nearly identical feigned oval frame in his portrait of a gentleman in a brown coat and Mechlin lace cravat, sold at Christieís London in 2007. Interestingly, at least two copies exist after Lelyís portrait of Viscount Grandison. The first one, a seemingly contemporary copy, is in the collection of the Earl of Jersey, who is descendant of the sitter.
The second one is attributed to Charles IIís friend and unofficial pupil Mary Beale and sold at Wilkinsonís Auctioneers, Doncaster, in 2017.
George Villiers was born in Dorset in 1618 as the fifth child and third son of Sir Edward Villiers (d. 1626) and Barbara St John.
On his fatherís side George belonged to the famous Villiers family, a Leicestershire family of ancient yet relatively modest origins that had rapidly risen to prominence thanks to the influence of Georgeís eponymous uncle, King James Iís notorious favourite, whom he created Duke of Buckingham. It was undoubtedly on the latterís recommendation that Georgeís father, Sir Edward Villiers, received a knighthood, held the function of English ambassador to Bohemia in 1620 and was appointed Lord President of the Irish province of Munster in 1625.
Not much is known about Georgeís private or professional life before the Restoration, despite for the fact that he was knighted at the age of 26 in 1644, most likely in recognition for his loyalty to the Royalist cause. In 1662, George was appointed Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, the oldest of the royal body guards, and remained in that position until 1689, when he was removed from it by King William III. As Captain, George was the most senior figure in the Royal Household, which resulted in him walking immediately behind James II during his coronation procession in 1685.
From the diary of Samuel Pepys we learn that Lord Grandison also appears to have functioned as an intermediary for financial transactions between King Charles II and his notorious mistress Barbara Villiers, Lord Grandisonís niece.
George Villiers died on 16 December 1699.
SIR PETER LELY (1618 - 1680) was the most important portraitist in the reign of Charles ll, although he had painted portraits throughout the Commonwealth. As Principal Painter to the King, he painted everyone of importance and was greatly in demand.
SIZE:37 x 32 inches framed.
PROVENANCE: Probably Dromana House, Ireland
Christieís, London, Anonymous Sale, 23 April 1976, Lot 67
Private Collection, London
Christieís, Amsterdam, Anonymous Sale, 8 May 1995, Lot 24 (as Follower of Lely)
Private Collection, Holland.
Internal Ref: 9206


This item is antique. The date of manufacture has been declared as 17th Century.


Height = 94 cm (37.0")
Width = 81.3 cm (32.0")
Depth = 5 cm (2.0")

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Roy Precious - Antiques & Fine Art
United Kingdom

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