The rough and the smooth


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:


Mr and Mrs Ralph Izzard


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.

john singleton copley 1

(Mrs John Winthrop)


(Mrs Nathaniel Allen)

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