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Attributed to Masson, Antoine (1636-1700) after Henri Gascar (1634/5–1701)

Nell Gwyn and her two sons c.1677-80

Engraving, stipple engraving and etching | 35.4 x 43.2 cm | RCIN 655608

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Eleanor ‘Nell’ Gywn was one of the first professional actresses on the London stage. She became Charles II's mistress in 1668 or 1669 and bore him two sons. This print celebrates Nell's fertility. Surrounded by plants, she reclines with her two sons depicted as cupids, while Charles II is shown across the lake dressed in Roman garb. An early pencil annotation on this impression states that she is wearing a lace gown stolen from her main rival for Charles's affections, Louise de Kéroualle. Cat. 167