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Oil painting - Margaret ('Peg') Woffington, Actress
  • Margaret ('Peg') Woffington, Actress
    Loo, Jean-Baptiste van , born 1684 - died 1745
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Margaret ('Peg') Woffington, Actress

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1738 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Loo, Jean-Baptiste van , born 1684 - died 1745 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 53a, case WN

Object Type
Although this is technically a portrait, the image of a young woman at a window with a pet bird in a cage was a frequently employed motif in popular paintings and prints of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Sometimes the women depicted were actresses or courtesans.

Margaret Woffington, (1718-1760), popularly known as `Peg', and the most famous actress of her day, enjoyed a lively and unconventional life. Various artists painted her, and this is almost certainly a portrait of her, although many pictures of attractive young women of that period are wrongly thought to be of her. This portrait is not signed, but the delicate treatment of the flesh tones and the sensitive rendering of the costume justify the attribution to Jean-Baptiste van Loo (1684-1745). He was so successful as a portrait painter, by 1738 he had to give five sittings a day at his studio in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, and prospective sitters were forced to apply six weeks in advance.

Physical description

Oil painting

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1738 (made)


Loo, Jean-Baptiste van , born 1684 - died 1745 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas


Height: 111 cm, Width: 88 cm, Depth: 9.8 cm

Object history note

Bequeathed by John Jones, 1882

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Margaret (Peg) Woffington', attributed to Jean-Baptiste van Loo, ca. 1738

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Ashton, Geoffrey. Catalogue of Paintings at the Theatre Museum, London. ed. James Fowler, London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1992. 224p. ill. ISBN 1851771026

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This portrait shows the popular actress Peg Woffington wearing lace from Flanders (now Belgium) in a Rococo design. It was possibly painted by Jean-Baptiste van Loo, a French painter, who came to London in 1737. The painting has a splendid scrolled Rococo frame of a slightly later date. [27/03/2003]


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting


Paintings; Portraits


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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