Collection Online
Sir John Rous, 1st Baronet of Henham Hall

Sir John Rous, 1st Baronet of Henham Hall

oil on canvas
125.7 × 103.0 cm
Place/s of Execution
London, England
inscribed in brown paint u.c.r.: PL(monogram)
inscribed in yellow paint l.l.: Mr ROUS / P.Lely, P: 1660.
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of the Countess of Stradbroke through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, 2012
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
17th Century & Flemish Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International
The subject of this portrait, John Rous, was a staunch and courageous supporter of Charles II in exile and in 1660 was awarded a hereditary baronetcy by the restored king. It was presumably to mark this event that Rous arranged to be painted by Peter Lely, then known as the best painter in London. In the 1640s, after the death in England of the great painter Sir Anthony van Dyck, Lely had travelled from The Hague to London, arriving during the Civil War. The painting was made at the height of Lely’s talents, just prior to his appointment as principal painter to Charles II, before the period when he began relying on teams of studio assistants.


The portrait of Sir John Rous, 1st Baronet of Henham Hall by Peter Lely came into the collection with this frame which carries the label of E.F. Watson frame makers and painting restorers in London (1830-1877). Considerable debate about the origin of the frame followed. It is noted in the diary notes for insurance of the collection in 1987 as “Sunderland carved gilt frame 48 ¾ x 40 ”.
From the front the frame has the essential form of a Sunderland (Auricular) frame from the mid seventeenth century, the detailing of the surface is nevertheless greater than we would expect at the time. The corner joints (square faced butt joints, mitred at the sight edge) and the joinery of the back frame (through mortise, pegged) are consistent with seventeenth century construction. The carved front frame appears to be oak. The rails on the reverse are softwood.
It is unlikely a nineteenth century frame maker would construct the corners and the reverse of the frame with such attention to detail. It is more likely the frame has been resurfaced and given extra incised decorative work by Edward Facon Watson in the late nineteenth century.
Frames with a very similar form appear on several paintings by Lely. The nearest visual references for the NGV frame are found on; the portrait of the 1st Earl of Essex and his wife Elizabeth, by Peter Lely, in the National Portrait Gallery London; Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, by Peter Lely also in the National Portrait Gallery London and Lely’s portrait of the Countess of Nottingham in the collection of the Huntington Library.
The painting was cleaned and restored in 2013/14.

Unknown - 17th century

Oak, softwood, gold leaf