Exhibition ARCHIVe


peter lely: a lyrical vision

11 October 2012 - 13 January 2013

Details of Lely's The ConcertLely's ShepherdLely Nymphs

"Lely’s elegant subject pictures have such a strong sense of sophistication and poetry" starstarstarstar The Telegraph


"This is a bonne bouche of an exhibition, a delicious morsel."

Brian Sewell, Evening Standard


"Revelatory...this surprising display feels as if it has discovered a whole new artist"

The Sunday Times


"This show casts fresh light on the artist at the heart of Restoration fashion"

Financial Times



Peter Lely was England’s leading painter from the period of the Civil War to the reign of Charles II.


Known principally for his portraits of court beauties, Lely devoted his early career to ambitious paintings of figures in idyllic landscapes.


This exhibition is the first to examine this remarkable but forgotten group of early paintings.


Depicting a sensuous pastoral world of shepherds, nymphs and musicians, these pictures are all the more extraordinary for having been painted during the turmoil of the English Civil War and its aftermath.


This is a chance to see some of the most beautiful and seductive paintings made in 17th-century England.

You can buy tickets in person at the ticket desk or book tickets online now:

This exhibition has now closed.




arrow Exhibition events include Curator's Tours, Late Night Openings and Lunchtime Talks.

arrow Standard admission fees apply.



Find out more

Watch a short film about the exhibition
     featuring curator Dr Caroline Campbell

arrow Read a blog post
about curating Peter Lely: A Lyrical Vision by Dr Caroline Campbell.

   Listen to a Spotify playlist inspired by Peter Lely: A Lyrical Vision


Lead Sponsor
James Stunt

Sponsor Friends of The Courtauld



peter lely: The Draughtsman and his collection

24 September 2012 - 13 January 2013


Lely Two Heralds in Ceremonial Dress


In addition to achieving renown as a painter, Peter Lely amassed one of England’s first great collections of drawings.


A display of a selection of drawings from Lely’s collection will be on view in The Courtauld Gallery concurrently with the exhibition Peter Lely: A Lyrical Vision.


A selection of Lely’s own drawings will be displayed alongside works from his collection. Primarily hand and drapery studies, these delicate sketches provide a glimpse into Lely’s practice as a portraitist. A special highlight is his Two heralds in ceremonial dress, a beautiful and highly detailed costume study of figures in a procession of the Order of the Garter (detail above).


Taken together, these drawings reveal a more private side of Lely, as worthy of exploration as his sparkling paintings.


arrowRead a blog post about Peter Lely: The Draughtsman and His Collection by Dr Rachel Sloan, Assistant Curator of Works on Paper.


Image credits (Top-Bottom, L-R)

Peter Lely, The Concert, c. 1650, © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

Peter Lely,  Boy as a Shepherd, c. 1658-60, © Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

Peter Lely, Nymphs by a Fountain, c. 1654, © Dulwich Picture Gallery, London


Peter Lely, Two heralds in ceremonial dress © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London