Born Deborah Lyde, Mrs. Francis Brinley (1698–1761) was the daughter of Edward and Catherine Lyde and the granddaughter of Judge Nathaniel Byfield (see portrait by Smibert, 24.109.87). When she married Francis Brinley in 1718, she was a woman of wealth and social prominence. An entry in Smibert's notebook dated May 1729 identifies the infant as the Brinley's son Francis (1729–1816). Mrs. Brinley holds a sprig of orange blossoms, a gesture which may have been taken from an eighteenth-century print by Sir Peter Lely. The white orange blossom symbolizes both marriage and purity, while the fruit, a sign of fertility, emphasizes Mrs. Brinley's role as a mother. Orange trees, although fashionable in Europe, were expensive rarities in the colonies. The presence of one here reinforces the sitter's wealth. Smibert also painted a portrait of Mrs. Brinley's husband (62.79.1).
Francis Brinley, Roxbury, Massachusetts, by 1790; his great-grandson, Edward L. Brinley, Philadelphia, by 1878; his daughter, Mrs. Henry Wharton, Philadelphia, by 1909–ca. 1924; her son, Henry Wharton, Philadelphia, 1926; his wife, Mrs. Henry Wharton, by 1949; with David Stockwell, Wilmington, by 1951; with James Graham and Sons, New York, by 1962