James McArdell after Sir Peter Lely
Done from the Original Picture, painted by Sir Peter Lely in the Royal Palace at Windsor
22 x 28.5 inches
Jane Middleton (1645-1692) was considered a beauty of the Restoration, one of a group of devastatingly attractive ladies who collectively became known as The Windsor Beauties. Her entry in the Dictionary of National Biography describes her thus: "representing a soft and slightly torpid type of blonde loveliness, with voluptuous figure, full lips, auburn hair and dark hazel eyes". Little wonder that men went crazy for her. Once married she was pursued relentlessly at court and is known to have taken both Ralph Montagu and the Earl of Rochester to her bed.
James McArdell was born in Dublin around the year 1729 and came to London at the end of the 1740's. Soon after this he started to work on his own and set himself up as an engraver at the sign of the Golden Head in Covent Garden. He specialised in mezzotint engravings after his contemporaries and the old master painters.
Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680) was almost certainly born and educated in Holland but is best remembered for his work in England where he arrived around 1641 as a relatively young man and aspirational artist. After the death of van Dyke he became the chief portrait painter at court and after the Restoration was appointed principal painter to Charles II.