Collection Online

Edward Henry Lee, 1st Earl of Lichfield, and his wife Charlotte Fitzroy as children

oil on canvas
188.6 × 177.7 cm
Place/s of Execution
London, England
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by Montah Holdings Pty Ltd 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

At the age of ten, Edward Henry Lee (1663–1716), a Catholic, was betrothed to nine-year-old Charlotte Fitzroy, the illegitimate and preferred daughter of Charles II and his mistress Barbara Villiers. At the same time, Charles created the title of Henry Earl of Litchfield. These carefully orchestrated events by Catholics in Charles’s court are commemorated by Jacob Huysmans, a Catholic painter favoured by Charles’s queen, Catholic Catherine of Braganza, and a rival of artist Peter Lely. The painting contains cryptic allusions to the Roman faith (which remained illegal despite Charles’s personal religious tolerance), such as a peacock, symbolising resurrection, and Christ as a gardener. The marriage was exceptionally happy and the couple had at least eleven children.