John Singleton Copley (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1738–1815 London)
Oil on canvas
21 1/2 x 17 3/4 in. (54.6 x 45.1 cm)
Gift of Marc Holzer, 2002
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 719
While there is no doubt of Copley's innate talent, these portraits give new meaning to the term precocious. About the age of fifteen, with no formal training and very little art to study, Copley not only could paint but also knew that his patrons would be best served with accurate but richly embellished likenesses. The handsome siblings, offspring of John and Priscilla Brown Greenleaf of Boston, wear just the sort of elaborate, inventive costumes that became the artist's forte. Copley's source for John's (2002.611) exotic cap and the boy's pose was a print after Sir Godfrey Kneller's portrait of Lord Bury as a child.
Dr. John Greenleaf (1717–1778); Mrs. John Greenleaf (nee Priscilla Brown); by descent through the the Appleton-Greenleaf family to Mrs. Odell (nee Edwina Vanberg Peterson);to her daughter, Mrs. John Detlets; Newhouse Galleries, Inc., NY; Mrs. and Mrs. Howard Joynt, Alexandria, Virginia; [sale, Christie's, New York, 1989]; purchased by the donor.