Studio of Sir Peter Lely

Portrait of Margaret Hughes

Portrait of Margaret Hughes by Studio of Sir Peter Lely

Artwork Detail

Margaret Hughes was one of the most celebrated actresses of the Restoration and the mistress of Prince Rupert, cousin of King Charles II. This pastel has been drawn from one of several portraits that Sir Peter Lely painted of Margaret (or Peg, as she was often called) during her acting career. We cannot be certain who painted the pastel, which is a replica of an original portrait in oils by Sir Peter Lely now in the collection of the Earls of Jersey.

We do know that some members of Lely’s studio, such as John Greenhill, practiced in chalks and pastels, and it is likely that one of Lely’s circle took the opportunity to depict this famous sitter, as she had an eager audience keep to have her image.

Margaret Hughes gave the first recorded performance by an actress in the role of Desdemona in Othello, and her beauty was noted by Samuel Pepys, amongst others, who wrote in his diary that she was ‘a mighty pretty woman…’

Portrait of Margaret Hughes
Studio of Sir Peter Lely
Production date
circa 1670
508 x 432 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2012
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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