Peter Lely came to England from his native Westphalia before the Civil War, and by the time of Charles II’s Restoration in 1660 had become Van Dyck’s undisputed successor, being appointed principal painter to the King in that year. One of his jobs was to celebrate the circle of ‘beauties’ with which Charles surrounded himself; women from every walk of life elevated, thanks to their physical charms, to the highest ranks of the aristocracy.