The rough and the smooth

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I’ve been meaning to post this wonderfully extravagant portrait for some time. It’s “Mrs Daniel Dennison (Abigail Bromfield)” by John Singleton Copely, a portraitist of early American colonial society whose sitters have names like Lucretia Hubbard Townsend or Nathaniel Sparhawk.

There’s much to enjoy in his grander portraits, which have the gloss of a Reynolds piece about them:

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Mr and Mrs Ralph Izzard

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Mrs Clark Gayton (adopting a pose that Ingres would later make famous.)

In many pieces JSC allows his sitters a direct gaze and does not idealise their features. The “recognisability” of these portraits is intriguing, as is the fact that many of his female sitters have notably masculine features.

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(Mrs John Winthrop)

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(Mrs Nathaniel Allen)

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