Lot 169
  • 169

SIR PETER LELY | Lady Penelope Nicholas (1640–1703), seated three-quarter length, wearing a gold dress and holding an orange

30,000 - 50,000 GBP
50,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Sir Peter Lely (after Sir Anthony Van Dyck)
  • Lady Penelope Nicholas (1640–1703), seated three-quarter length, wearing a gold dress and holding an orange
  • inscribed lower right: Lady Pene Nicholas/ Sir P Lely/ pinxt
  • oil on canvas
  • 127 x 101.6 cm.; 50 x 40 in.


By direct descent from the sitter to William Nicholas, West Horsley House (where seen by George Vertue in 1747);
H. Weston, Esq., West Horsley House, by 1908;
Private collection, UK, acquired circa 1908, and by descent until sold
Anonymous sale ('The Property of a Gentleman'), London, Christie’s, 17 July 1992, lot 4;
Where acquired by the present owner.


G. Vertue, ‘Notebooks’, in The Walpole Society, vol. XX (‘Vertue II’), 1931–32, p. 80.

Catalogue Note

Lady Penelope Nicholas, née Compton, was the daughter of Spencer, 2nd Earl of Northampton, K.B., the heroic Royalist commander who was killed at the Battle of Hopton Heath in 1643, and Mary Beaumont. Lady Penelope married Sir John Nicholas, K.B. (1623–1704), son of Sir Edward Nicholas, K.B. (1593–1669), Secretary of State to King Charles I and II.

George Vertue, the eminent eighteenth century diarist and antiquarian, visited William Nicholas, the grandson of the sitter, at West Horsley House, Guildford on 19 August 1744. There he noted ‘some good modern family pictures’ including several by Lely: Portrait of Lord Clarendon, a portrait of the sitter’s father, the sitter’s brother, Sir William Compton (1625 – 1663), also an eminent Royalist commander,1 and the series of portraits of the Nicholas family. Vertue records this portrait as ‘Lady Penelope Nicholas ½ PL (monogram) a fine picture.’ The portrait of her father-in-law is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the companion portrait to this picture, depicting her husband, is in the Birmingham City Art Gallery.2 Vertue records the portrait of Sir John as having been painted in 1662, and presumably the portrait of Lady Penelope was completed at the same time.

1 Now in the collection of the National Trust, hanging at Ham House, London.
2 Acc. no. 1937P891; see City Museum and Art Gallery, Catalogue of Paintings, Birmingham 1960, p. 91, cat. no. 891'37. For an image see R.B. Beckett, Lely, London 1951, p. 55, cat. no. 381, reproduced pl. 73.