Portrait of Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth
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Peter Lely
English, about 1671 - 1674
Oil on canvas
48 x 40 in.

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Louise de Keroualle, the duchess of Portsmouth, sits in front of a window open to a lush landscape. Her loosely draped blue silk dress reveals the creamy skin of her chest and neck. In a pose both sensual and elegant, with her head slightly turned, Louise de Keroualle looks down at the viewer as she plays with a thick, lush strand of her abundant hair. Her features--almond-shaped eyes, gently arched eyebrows, a straight nose, and full red lips--epitomized ideal beauty of the late 1600s.

Louise de Keroualle, who worked as a spy for Louis XIV, came to England from France as a Maid of Honour to the sister of King Charles II in 1670. Soon afterward, she became Charles's favorite mistress, and in 1673 he created for her the position of Duchess of Portsmouth. She used her influence to strengthen the friendship between Charles II and Louis XIV.