Peter Lely (°1618) was an English artist of Dutch origin. He received his training as a painter in Haarlem and later moved to England, where, following the death of Sir Anthony Van Dyck, he became the favourite portraitist of the English aristocracy. In addition to his portrait work, he acquired a reputation as an excellent painter of historical scenes. He was also a passionate collector of fine art.
In his early portraits he achieved a synthesis between the Dutch and Flemish traditions of portraiture, under the strong influence of Van Dyck. The portrait recently acquired by Musea Brugge is an excellent example of this synthesis: it displays a soberness that is reminiscent of the portrait style of Frans Hals. The new purchase was painted around 1650 and is believed to depict Samuel Crew, the young offspring of a noble family from Northamptonshire and brother-in-law of the well-known Edward Montegu, Earl of Sandwich, one of the earliest patrons of Lely in England.
The Groeninge Museum in Bruges is the first Flemish museum to buy and exhibit a painting by Sir Peter Lely – whose work also graces famous art galleries and museums in London, New York, Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin. As a result of this purchase, the Baroque section of the Groeninge Museum will be amended to show both the Lely portrait and Van Dyck’s portrait of Mrs. Howard, which is temporarily on loan from a private collection.
Masterpieces from the Mauritshuis and the KMSKA now on display in the Groeninge Museum
Since recently, the Groeninge Museum’s collection of 15th and 16th century paintings has been enhanced by twenty works from the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague and the Royal Museum of Fine Art in Antwerp (KMSKA). Both museums are currently closed for renovation work. The paintings on loan from The Hague will remain in Bruges until the middle of 2014; those from Antwerp until 2015.
The twenty paintings in question have been selected on the basis of their content in a manner that temporarily strengthens the permanent collection of the Groeninge Museum. The paintings include works by Jan Provoost, the Master of the Legend of St. Barbara, Jan Gossaert, the Master of Frankfurt, Bartholomeus Brüyn and Ambrosius Benson.
Some of the artists on loan were already represented in the Bruges collection; others are appearing for the first time, adding a new dimension and a broader perspective to the permanent display. These paintings are seldom loaned to other museums, but to avoid the need to store them for long periods in depots during the renovation works, it was exceptionally decided to allow their temporary use in selected partner museums, including the Groeninge Museum. The KMSKA, the Groeninge Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) in Ghent have already been collaborating for some time within the framework of the Flemish Art Collection (VKC). The VKC is a non-profit organization, one of whose aims is to simplify and improve collection mobility in Flanders and beyond.
For more information about the renovation works in the Mauritshuis: www.mauritshuis.nl
For the KMSKA: www.kmska.be