Dutch painter. He was active in England from 1641, painting fashionable portraits in the style of van Dyck. His subjects included Charles I, Cromwell, and Charles II. He painted a series of admirals, Flagmen
(National Maritime Museum, London), and one of The Windsor Beauties
(Hampton Court, Richmond), fashionable women of Charles II's court.
He studied in Haarlem under Frans Pietersz de Grebber and came to England in 1641, soon afterwards changing his style to emulate the courtly elegance of van Dyck. Lely painted Charles I during his captivity at Hampton Court, and worked throughout the Commonwealth era, though reverting to a plainer manner as in his portrait of Oliver Cromwell. However, he is mainly associated with the Restoration period when his output was huge, his replicas alone employing a full-time army of assistants. His popular portraits of the ladies of Charles II's court were turned out to such a standardized pattern as to be often indistinguishable, but his male portraits show a more individual character as in those of the admirals and commanders of the victory against the Dutch at Sole Bay in 1665, (National Maritime Museum).
He was knighted in 1679.
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