Sir Geoffrey Palmer, 1st Baronet (1598-1670) Attorney-General 1660-70
About the work
This engraved portrait of the former Attorney-General Sir Geoffrey Palmer made, as the inscription indicates, during the reign of Charles II, shows the sitter within an oval, above which is a decorative ribbon design and below which is lettering and a coat of arms.
Lawyer and politician Geoffrey Palmer was called to the bar in 1623 but later left his career in conveyancing for high law and politics. Palmer was twice committed to the Tower: once after causing uproar in the House of Commons by protesting against the Remonstrance of 1641 (Parliament’s list of grievances against Charles I’s policies) and again after his capture following the Siege of Oxford (1644-46). Palmer prospered as a result of the Restoration, being knighted, made Attorney-General and created a baronet in 1660.
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.