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Portrait of Margaret Lemon by Anthony van Dyck, c.1637

Mrs Margaret Lemon, known as ‘Peg’, was born around 1613/14 and served as Van Dyck’s model from 1629, becoming his mistress from 1632. She had a difficult character and was described by the Bohemian artist Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77) as a ‘dangerous woman’, and a ‘demon of jealousy’. Despite such a character reference, this portrait records a relaxed and private moment between the artist and his muse. In 1639, Van Dyck ended his relationship with Margaret when pressurised by Charles I to marry Mary Ruthven, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Henrietta Maria.