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After Peter Cross (c. 1645-1724); published by Richard Tompson (d. 1693)

Nell Gwyn as Venus c.1678-9

Mezzotint | 20.6 x 14.8 cm | RCIN 655579

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Nell Gwyn is shown here in the guise of Venus, goddess of love, adapted from a painting by Correggio which had been in the collection of Charles I. While not identified by name, clues to Nell's identity are provided in the verse, such as being described as the ‘soveraigns Joy’. Only a handful of impressions of this mezzotint have survived, including one in Samuel Pepys's collection. Pepys admired Nell as a comic actress and referred to her as ‘a mighty pretty creature’. Cat. 168