Treasures of the Fondation Custodia | 3

Margaret Lemon

Portrait of a spirited woman

Who was Margaret Lemon, the young lady depicted in the 17th-century portrait miniature kept at the Fondation Custodia? Clad in men’s clothes, she stares at us haughtily and has long been an enigma for art historians.

  • Samuel Cooper (London 1607/08 – 1672 London), Portrait of Margaret Lemon, c. 1635-37
    Watercolour on vellum, 120 × 98 mm
    Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. no. 395
  • Anthony van Dyck (Antwerp 1599 – 1641 Blackfriars (London)), Portrait of Margaret Lemon
    Brush with Indian ink wash, 248 × 145 mm
    Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. no. 7328
  • Wenzel Hollar (Prague 1607 – 1677 London), after Anthony van Dyck, Marguerite Lemon angloise, 1646
    Etching, 260 × 175 mm
    Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. no. 7082

A renowned beauty in London’s higher circles, this young woman who was the mistress of the painter Anthony van Dyck at the pinnacle of his career is described by 17th-century sources as dangerous and tremendously free. The Fondation Custodia’s collection includes a total of five portraits of Margaret Lemon, and recent discoveries with regard to the tragic destiny of this spirited muse shed a new light on these works of art.

This video’s host, curator Cécile Tainturier, invites you to find out more about her.

Treasures of the Fondation Custodia 3 | Margaret Lemon: Portrait of a spirited woman