Wednesday 18 April 1666

[Up] and by coach with Sir W. Batten and Sir Thos. Allen to White Hall, and there after attending the Duke as usual and there concluding of many things preparatory to the Prince and Generall’s going to sea on Monday next, Sir W. Batten and Sir T. Allen and I to Mr. Lilly’s, the painter’s; and there saw the heads, some finished, and all begun, of the Flaggmen in the late great fight with the Duke of Yorke against the Dutch. The Duke of Yorke hath them done to hang in his chamber, and very finely they are done indeed. Here is the Prince’s, Sir G. Askue’s, Sir Thomas Teddiman’s, Sir Christopher Mings, Sir Joseph Jordan, Sir William Barkeley, Sir Thomas Allen, and Captain Harman’s, as also the Duke of Albemarle’s; and will be my Lord Sandwich’s, Sir W. Pen’s, and Sir Jeremy Smith’s. Being very well satisfied with this sight, and other good pictures hanging in the house, we parted, and I left them, and [to] pass away a little time went to the printed picture seller’s in the way thence to the Exchange, and there did see great plenty of fine prints; but did not buy any, only a print of an old pillar in Rome made for a Navall Triumph,1 which for the antiquity of the shape of ships, I buy and keepe.

Thence to the Exchange, that is, the New Exchange, and looked over some play books and intend to get all the late new plays. So to Westminster, and there at the Swan got a bit of meat and dined alone; and so away toward King’s Street, and spying out of my coach Jane that lived heretofore at Jevons, my barber’s, I went a little further and stopped, and went on foot back, and overtook her, taking water at Westminster Bridge, and spoke to her, and she telling me whither she was going I over the water and met her at Lambeth, and there drank with her; she telling me how he that was so long her servant, did prove to be a married man, though her master told me (which she denies) that he had lain with her several times in his house.

There left her ‘sans essayer alcune cose con elle’, and so away by boat to the ’Change, and took coach and to Mr. Hales, where he would have persuaded me to have had the landskipp stand in my picture, but I like it not and will have it otherwise, which I perceive he do not like so well, however is so civil as to say it shall be altered. Thence away to Mrs. Pierces, who was not at home, but gone to my house to visit me with Mrs. Knipp. I therefore took up the little girle Betty and my mayde Mary that now lives there and to my house, where they had been but were gone, so in our way back again met them coming back again to my house in Cornehill, and there stopped laughing at our pretty misfortunes, and so I carried them to Fish Streete, and there treated them with prawns and lobsters, and it beginning to grow darke we away, but the jest is our horses would not draw us up the Hill, but we were fain to ’light and stay till the coachman had made them draw down to the bottom of the Hill, thereby warming their legs, and then they came up cheerfully enough, and we got up and I carried them home, and coming home called at my paper ruler’s and there found black Nan, which pleases me mightily, and having saluted her again and again away home and to bed … [apres ayant tocado les mamelles de Mercer, que eran overts, con grand plaisir. – L&M]

In all my ridings in the coach and intervals my mind hath been full these three weeks of setting in musique “It is decreed, &c.”

29 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Today at Gresham College - from the Hooke Folio Online

Aprill 18. 1666. There was produced by mr Hooke a new kind of watch whose motion is Regulated by a Loadstone the ballance of it being a rod of steel. concerning which the Pt. affirmed declared that this way might doe best of all in case the magnet kept always the same temper. [ Working toward an escapement… ]
[Chariots] The springy saddle contriued by the same [Mr Hooke] was tryed and an exception being made against the narrownesse of the seat and the way of hanging on the stirrups it was ordered that against the next Day it should be made with a full seat & wth. the stirrups hanging from the seat it self.
(mr. Boyle about sounds)
about transfusion) Dr Charlton of Blood) about injection)
Oldenburg German turning.)
mr Streaters egge painting) mr Pouey offered to goe with mr. Hooke to the artist. there to see the operation it self his offer was accepted and mr orderd to attend him accordingly (he promised a skeleton).…

JWB  •  Link

"Columna Rostrata, or Columna Duilia, a marble pillar ornamented with beaks of war-ships, erected in memory of the naval victory gained by C. Duilius over the Carthaginians in 2tiO B. c. A fragment of its inscription was discovered in July, 1565, between the Arch of Severus and the Column of Phocas, and removed to the vestibule of the Palazzo dei Conservator!, where it is to be seen at the foot of the stairs, under a more or less fanciful model of the column. The inscription, although dating from the time of Claudius, is not a copy of the original one. It is prolix, slightly incorrect, and seems to have been made up by a grammarian from passages of early annalists." p 254 "The Ruins and Excavations of Ancient Rome", Rodolfo Amedeo Lanciani…


Terry Foreman  •  Link

"There left her ‘sans essayer alcune cose con elle’....having saluted her again and again, away home and to bed apres ayant tocado les mamelles de Mercer, que cran ouverts, con grand plaisir."

""There left [Jane Welsh] without trying to do anything with her ....having kissed [black Nan] again and again, away home and to bed after having touched Mercer's breasts, which were uncovered, with great pleasure.” [Transl. moi et Duncan Grey]

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" to Mr. Lilly’s, the painter’s; there saw the heads, some finished, and all begun, of the Flaggmen ..."

The group, with two exceptions is now at Greenwich:

"The full 'flagmen' set consists of thirteen individual portraits, of which George IV presented eleven plus a copy of that of Admiral Sir John Lawson (BHC2833) to Greenwich Hospital in 1824. The originals of Lawson and of Prince Rupert were retained in the Royal Collection, although William IV presented an extended full-length copy of the latter (BHC2990) to the Hospital in 1835."

For thumbnails of most with links to full descriptions see:…

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... only a print of an old pillar in Rome made for a Navall Triumph, which for the antiquity of the shape of ships, I buy and keepe."

L&M state there is no relevant print now among the Pepys Library holdings. They suggest it was probably a version of the image linked to below, issued as part of the series of engravings published by Lafieri as 'Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae,' circa 1573-77:…

Carl in Boston  •  Link

he would have persuaded me to have had the landskipp stand in my picture, but I like it not. Pepys was right about making a plain background. The landscape would have made the portrait busy and distracted from his pride and joy, the music manuscript in his hand. Sometimes the customer is right.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

When "Oldenburg" is mentioned thus in Robert Hooke's notes of the proceedings of the Royal Society, it is the Society's German-born foreign correspondent, aka secretary, Henry Oldenburg, most often reading a letter from abroad.…

JWB  •  Link

"...most often reading a letter from abroad. "

And sending them abroad. Oldenburg gave Leibnitz heads-up on Newton's fluxions. Whether this originally gave him the idea is debated.

Ruben  •  Link

As far as I can remember this is the first time he writes in Franc-Lat-Spanglish about something he did not do!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Hmmn...First rather bold evidence that Mary Mercer is involved in Sam's little romps. I wonder if Bess' spider sense is tingling...

Ok, one of us has to say it...Uncovered?


Paul Chapin  •  Link

"The full ‘flagmen’ set consists of thirteen individual portraits"
That was one heck of a commission for Lely - must have kept him in oysters for a good while. And unlike some of his contemporaries on the continent, apparently he did all the work himself.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

And unlike some of his contemporaries on the continent, apparently he did all the work himself.

No, alas. "Since they were first analyzed with extreme enthusiasm by Collins Baker, [C. H. Collins Baker, 'Lely and the Stuart Portrait Painters' London: 1912, 2 vols.] the Flagmen have been given pride of place in assessments of Lely. It is true that in the series Lely's images are, in character and sometimes in design, akin to the portraits by Van der Hulst or Maes of the Duke of York's adversaries and form a powerful contrast with his portraits of the ladies of the court. As Burnet remarked, in words brought forcibly to mind in front of them: 'The Duke found all the great seamen had a deep tincture from their education: They both hated Popery and loved liberty: They were men of severe tempers, and kept good discipline.' Nevertheles the heads which Pepys saw are the only parts of the compositions actually painted by Lely. These heads are amongst the most powerful he ever painted; but the remainder of the designs are, in the execution, dull: in certain portraits the heads do not grow very convincingly from the shoulders; and the X-rays of [Sir John Harman] shows that the surroundings of the head were radically altered when the design came to be worked out fully. The quality in all but the heads does not compare favorably with autograph work of the same date. ... Some of the backgrounds in the set, and some of the hands are especially bad or dull."
Oliver Millar 'Sir Peter Lely 1618-80 an exhibition ...' [London]: National Portrait Gallery, 1978/9 pp. 58-9.

Lely in fact developed the studio system, first devised by Van Dyck in the 1630's to deal with a large practice, of postures classified by a standard number system, canvases in standard sizes, assistants, apprentices, drapery specialists et al., that lasted in fashionable portrait practice in London through the end of the nineteenth century.

language hat  •  Link

"Pepys was right about making a plain background. The landscape would have made the portrait busy"

This judgment is impossible to make without seeing the original version. If we were reading the painter's diary, we would doubtless lament the loss of his brilliant landscape.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

MR, thanks once again for an extremely illuminating contribution.

Tom Carr  •  Link

I just visited Hampton Court Palace a few weeks ago and took some photos of the Sir Peter Lely's "Windsor Beauties".

I had a curious conversation with the guard - I had to convince her that they were Charles II's mistresses. She kept insisting that they were Charles I's mistresses. I referred her to Pepy's diary as proof!…

jeannine  •  Link

Tom--Many thanks-the photos are delightful!

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Yes, Tom, my thanks too. I'm no art critic, but studying the three Windsor portraits up close led me to a couple of reactions. First, it's surprising how much alike the faces look, surely much more alike than the women themselves must have looked. I suspect this is for the same reason that Playmate photos in Playboy magazine look so much alike, to conform to someone's contemporary idea of feminine beauty.

Second, after being alerted by Michael Robinson to Lely's studio system, I believe I can detect differences in the quality of different parts of the paintings. In the portrait of Henrietta Boyle, for example, the left arm is misproportioned and the left hand is fat and featureless, unlike the right arm and hand.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

The 'family resemblance' of the Windsor Beauties ...

Paul, Playboy is probably the most apt comparison; contemporaries observed all resembled Charles II favorite 'playmate.' Oliver Miller, at pp. 62-3, discussing the Sunderland set of court Beauties (painted for Robert Spencer, 2nd. Earl of Sunderland, which remain still at Althorp and are part of the largest collection of Lely's work formed by one patron) quotes one contemporary observation:

"Sir Peter Lely when he had painted the Duchess of Cleveland's picture, he put something of Cleveland's face her Languishing Eyes into every one Picture, so that all his pictures had an air one of another, all the Eyes were Sleepy alike. So that Mr. Walker ye Painter swore Lilly's Pictures was all Brothers & Sisters."
BL Add. MS 22950 f. 41)

Tom Carr  •  Link

Glad you liked the photos. I'm in the process of posting more. From the default page click on vacations and scroll down for all of my England pictures. I hope to have Castle Howard posted today.

You can click on each thumbnail to see more detail - you'll just have to be patient as my server is hosted at home and I only have 512K up.

The similarities were even more striking in person. Instead of considering the artist's "hand", I simply assumed that Charles II had a certain "type" of lady that he found attractive.

I do wish that the people on duty were more knowledgeable at Hampton Court - I only convinced the guard that the were Charles II after pointing out both Pepy's diary and the Duchess of Cleveland's full name "Barbara Villiers". Her full name was not on display, but the guard did finally make the connection. In contrast, the guides at Castle Howard were veritable fonts of information.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

I’m in the process of posting more

Tom, just echoing Jeannine's 'thanks'-- you must have been very busy.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Thank you for the lovely photos Tom - much enjoyed "visiting" York and Castle Howard again. If you are a devotee of the Pre-Raphs, did you get to visit Wightwick Manor… when you were in the Uk - it's a stunning visual feast!

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Flagmen of Lowestoft are a collection of thirteen paintings by Sir Peter Lely, painted in the mid-1660s. They were originally part of the Royal Collections, though most were given to Greenwich Hospital in the nineteenth century, and are now in the care of the National Maritime Museum. The paintings are of prominent naval officers, most of them of flag rank, who had fought at the Battle of Lowestoft in 1665.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Windsor Beauties are a famous collection of paintings by Sir Peter Lely, painted in the early to mid-1660s. The name stems from the original location of the collection, which was housed in the Queen's bedchamber in Windsor Castle. They can now be seen at Hampton Court Palace.…

ignaciodurant  •  Link

every time I read these notes, it’s like a trip to the past how nice that these records have reached our time and you can transfer a little from the past and feel the flavor of that time

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Sir W. Batten and Sir T. Allen and I to Mr. Lilly’s, the painter’s; ..."

"Later in his career, Peter Lely ran an informal drawing school from his home in Covent Garden, encouraging artists to draw from the live model."

Sadly the article doesn't say when "later" was ... but Covent Garden was an artsy place to live at the time.…

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