Thomas Sully (American, Horncastle, Lincolnshire 1783–1872 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Oil on canvas
27 1/2 x 23 in. (69.9 x 58.4 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1906
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774
According to the artist’s personal registers, this portrait was painted between December 1, 1812 and January 31, 1813, and cost the sitter seventy dollars. It reveals the influence of Sully's English trip of 1809–10, during which time he studied with Benjamin West and found his stylistic model in the work of the English portraitist Sir Thomas Lawrence. In fact, this painting is a half-length adaptation of Lawrence's "Elizabeth Farren, Countess of Derby" (also in the Museum's collection). The sitter’s dynamic gesture, turn of the head, and fashionable fur wrap—as well as Sully’s bravura brushwork—are all borrowed from Lawrence. However, the American de-emphasizes the sensuality of the original work, stressing instead an air of charm and social standing suitable for a Philadelphia lady.
the sitter's descendants (until 1906); Ehrich Galleries, New York (1906)