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Sir Peter Lely (1618-80)

Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland (ca 1641-1709) c. 1665

Oil on canvas | 124.5 x 101.4 cm | RCIN 404957

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Barbara Villiers was Charles II's principal mistress between 1660 and 1670 and the most powerful woman at court. She devoted much energy to public demonstrations of the king's favour through displays of jewels and wealth. She was painted frequently by Lely, who described her beauty as ‘beyond the compass of art’. Cat. 57