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Portrait of Margaret Lemon


Dyck, Anthony van; draughtsman; Flemish artist, 1599-1641








17th Century




black chalk; medium
red chalk; medium
white chalk; medium
paper; support; laid down


black, red and white chalks on paper, laid down on an 18th century washed mount (some glue stains, black chalk offset)


height, paper, 192, mm
width, paper, 245, mm


bought; 2001; Maggs Bros.


?Nicolas Lanier [1588-1666] (Lugt 2991); Peter Lankrink [1628-1692] (Lugt 2090); Jonathan Richardson Sr [1665-1745] (Lugt 2984); ? his sale, London, January 1747; Foljambe, by descent until 2000, bought by Maggs Bros


Margaret Lemon, known to her contemporaries as 'Peg', was probably born in London c. 1613-14 [see Susan E. James 'The Model as Catalyst: Nicholas Lanier and Margaret Lemon' in the 'Antwerp Royal Museums Annual', 1999, pp. 70-89]. She was probably Van Dyck's model as early as 1629 for a siren in his 'Rinaldo and Armida' [Baltimore Museum of Art] and appears to have lived with him as his mistress at his house in Blackheath from 1632 until 1639 when he broke off relations with her under pressure from King Charles I in order to marry Mary Ruthven, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Henrietta Maria. Mrs Lemon was clearly a passionate woman and was described by Wenceslaus Hollar, who engraved her portrait after Van Dyck in 1646 and who knew her personally as: 'a dangerous woman, this demon of jealousy, who caused the most horrible scenes when ladies belonging to London society had been sitting without chaperone to her lover for their portraits and who on one occasion in a fit of hysterics had tried to bite off Van Dyck's thumb so as to prevent him from ever painting again.' [Johannes Urzidil 'Hollar a Czech émigré in England', London, 1942, pp. 46 et seqq.]. Of the many portraits of her by Van Dyck the best known are the 'Woman as Erminia' at Blenheim and those at Hampton Court Palace and Althorp [Susan James [loci citati] reproduces several paintings in which she identifies Mrs Lemon as the model]. She probably also posed for him as Psyche in the painting of 'Cupid and Psyche' in the Royal Collection. Hollar's report is probably exaggerated; after Van Dyck's death she continued in demand as a model and posed for Sir Peter Lely [a drawing of her in profile is in the Fondation Custodia, Paris, previously attributed to Van Dyck] as is a portrait miniature of her, wearing a man's hat, by Samuel Cooper. Susan James [loci citati] illustrates several other portraits by different artists where she identifies Margaret Lemon as the sitter, including another portrait miniature by Cooper, dated 1671 [collection of the Duke of Buccleught]. In both its technique, informality and intimacy the drawing is far closer to Rubens than is normally the case with Van Dyck. Here he is unusually intimate, relaxed and sensual. Mrs Lemon's presence is palpable and the drawing is of an intimacy quite startling both for Van Dyck and for an artist working in Britain in the seventeenth century.

Acquisition Credit:

From the Gow and Perceval funds with contributions from the National Art Collections Fund [with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation] and Re:source / V. & A. Purchase Grant Fund.


; recto; brown ink; Mrs Lemon; ?Nicolas Lanier's hand
; recto; brown ink; Sr A. Vandyck; ?Nicolas Lanier's hand
; old mount, verso; brown ink; A106; Jonathan Richardson Senior's hand
; old mount, verso; brown ink; P. 26; Jonathan Richardson Senior's hand
; old mount, verso; brown ink; 9UH; Jonathan Richardson Senior's hand


Lugt; 2991
Lugt; 2090
Lugt; 2984



Woudhuysen, P.. 1982. Treasures of the Fitzwilliam Museum.Cambridge (Cambs.): Pevensey Pressp. 51

2002. Chefs-d' oevre du Fitzwilliam Museum de Cambridge; Dix ans d' acquisitions de dessins de maîtres anciens.Colmar, Paris: Artemis-C.G. Boerner
Reproduced in colour.

Scrase, David. Portrait of Margaret Lemon.
Source Title: The National Art Collections Fund 2001 Review(2001)


Object Number: PD.41-2001
(Paintings, Drawings and Prints)
(record id: 32976; input: 2001-08-22; modified: 2017-06-19)


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