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The precise identity of these women is unknown but they have traditionally been associated with the Lake family of Cannons house and estate in Middlesex, later the property of the Duke of Chandos. Portraits of women by Lely, like this one, tend to conform to the standards of ideal beauty which were current at court. In such paintings, the artist was more concerned with asserting a sense of glamour and sophistication than conveying individual personalities. The woman on the left is shown playing a French-made guitar, the latest fashion to arrive from Paris.

February 2016