Thomas Clifford, 1st Baron Clifford of Chudleigh (1630-1673) Statesman
About the work
The politician Thomas Clifford is depicted dressed in the full grandeur of his peer’s robes of red velvet and ermine, and holds a staff. Behind him a mustard coloured silk curtain is draped in front of a column. Beyond the column, an English landscape and the distant glow of a sunset can be seen.
This portrait was commissioned from the artist by the sitter, who presented it to the politician and government official Sir John Duncombe (c.1622-1687). It is not known how or when it entered the collection at Downing Street. However, Sir George Scharf, first Director of the National Portrait Gallery, viewed it at No. 10 Downing Street in March 1879. Scharf gave an enthusiastic appraisal of the painting in his later article on Lely’s portraits of Thomas Clifford, published in ‘The Athenaeum’: ‘The picture is in itself an excellent one, a genuine Lely, and evidently painted from the life.’
About the artist
Peter Lely was born in Westphalia in Germany. He studied in Haarlem under Pieter de Grebber, becoming a Master of the Haarlem Guild in 1637. He relocated to England in 1641, where he succeeded Sir Antony Van Dyck as Principal Painter to Charles II. Lely presided over a large studio and employed several assistants. He frequently painted only the head of the sitter himself, before passing the work to an assistant to complete. The work of his assistants is often mistakenly attributed to Lely himself. He was knighted in 1680, shortly before his death that year. At the time of his death, over 100 canvases remained in his studio, many copies executed by assistants. His assistants also produced independent work in the style of their master.
Sir Peter Lely (1618 - 1680)
- Thomas Clifford, 1st Baron Clifford of Chudleigh (1630-1673) Statesman
- Oil on canvas
- height: 127.50 cm, width: 101.50 cm
- Origin uncertain
- Commissioned from the artist by the sitter for Sir John Duncombe (c.1622-1687) politician and government official at a cost of £30; located at 10 Downing Street by 1879
- GAC number