Florence – Palazzo Pitti (Oliver Cromwell by Peter Lely)

This isn’t the greatest imagery of a painting that I’ve seen, but unfortunately, some of the artworks were quite hard to take clear photos of due to how they were presented within the room. So, that’s my excuse here. Anyway, this is one of many Peter Lely (1618-1680) works and, as with this one, it was painted in his studio rather than necessarily by the artist himself. This is also why there are several versions of this artwork in galleries around the world, as well as at the wonderful Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon.

The gallery thinks that this is the portrait purchased by Amerigo Salvetti, a diplomat with strong familial links to Italian nobles, and sent to the Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1654. Lely did well in ensuring that he was able to switch from painting members of the Monarchy to members of the Commonwealth, but Oliver Cromwell wanted no flattering, saying to Lely:

“Mr Lely, I desire that you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts and everything; otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it”.