Sir Peter Lely, circle of - PORTRAIT OF SIR WILLIAM BOWYER, 2ND BARONET OF DENHAM
Sir Peter Lely, circle of
PORTRAIT OF SIR WILLIAM BOWYER, 2ND BARONET OF DENHAM
Oil on canvas (relined). 76 x 63,5 cm.
On the reverse on the canvas an old inscription: Sr Wm. Boyer Knight. / Son of Sr Wm. Boyer / Knight & Baronight / Sr. Pr. Lilloy / Pix.
The painting illustrates the characteristic portraiture by Sir Peter Lely, son of a Dutchman from Haarlem and born in Soest, Westphalia, who advanced to become the most influential portrait painter to the English Court. Surrounded by an illusionist oval stone frame with broad acanthus foliage, a self-confident young man presents himself, his upper body turned left while facing in the direction of the viewer. The lively expression on the face is due to careful modelling, but the generously draped apparel contrasts by only a few superior brush strokes.
To the identity of the sitter points an old lettering on the reverse that may have been transferred from the original canvas to the doubled one applied in the 18th or early 19th century. The sitter is "Sr. Wm. Boyer Knight", son of the identically-named "Sr. Wm. Boyer Knight & Baronight". These persons are to be found in the Bowyer family that had three Baronetcies at their disposal at Lely's time. In view of the abbreviated first names of father and son, they are the Baronets of Denham Court in the Earldom of Buckinghamshire. This title was created by King Charles II in 1660 for Sir William Bowyer (1612-1679), a deserving representative in the Lower House, who would be the father of the sitter according to the lettering. Fond of literature, the first Baronet was friends with John Dryden whom he supposedly assisted in the translation of Virgil. Our painting therefore shows the Baronet's eldest son from his marriage to Margaret Weld, a daughter of Sir John Weld.
Sir William Bowyer, 2nd Baronet of Denham Court, was born in 1639. Upon his father's death in October 2, 1679, he inherited the title of Denham as well as the seat in London's Lower House. That same year, he married Lady Frances Cecil, a daughter of Charles Cecil, Viscount Cranborne, with whom he had three children. The 2nd Baronet of Denham whose portrait as a young man is our painting, died on February 13, 1722, at an advanced age.
Ronald Brymer Beckett: Lely, London 1951, S. 37, Nr. 48: „Sir William Boyer. / BLO [=Bust length in feigned oval] to L.[eft]. 29 x 24 [inch]. c. 1672. S. N. Fraser, 1922. RW.“ Bei diesem Bildnis dürfte es sich um unser Gemälde handeln. Neben Maßen und Bildbeschreibung passt auch die von Beckett vorgeschlagene Datierung zu unserem Bild, da Lely illusionistische Steinrahmungen vor allem in den frühen 1670er Jahren verwendet hat.