Sir Joshua Reynolds (British, Plympton 1723–1792 London)
Oil on canvas
29 5/8 x 24 1/2 in. (75.2 x 62.2 cm)
Bequest of George D. Pratt, 1935
Not on view
The unknown sitter was formerly identified as Lady Charlotte Johnstone, whose appearance is documented in another portrait by Reynolds (private collection). Reynolds recorded sittings with Lady Charlotte between 1759 and 1761. Her portrait shows her wearing an ermine-trimmed, tasseled cloak over a white gown with a crossover bodice tied with a wide sash. The Museum's sitter is attired very similarly, and on grounds of style and costume the two works must be contemporaneous. Reynolds painted ermine-trimmed cloaks and coats so often that it seems possible he kept such a garment in his studio.
The picture is worn and flattened from an old lining, but retains a certain gentle charm. The flesh tones have faded significantly, and the rich medium has caused some wrinkling in the blue and the ermine.
[2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]
R. W. G. Tyringham (until 1907; sale, Christie's, London, February 23, 1907, no. 145, as "a Lady, in white dress and blue cloak lined with ermine, her right arm resting on a red velvet cushion," for £609 to Rutley [Agnew]); [Agnew, London, 1907; sold to Lewis]; Barnet Lewis, London and Foxbrush, Hildenborough, Kent (1907–30; his estate sale, Christie's, London, February 28–March 3, 1930, no. 151, as "a Lady," for £1,890 to Labey); [J. P. Labey, from 1930]; [John Levy, New York; sold for $21,000 to Pratt]; George D. Pratt, Glen Cove, N.Y. (until d. 1935, as "Lady Charlotte Johnstone"; life interest to his widow, Vera Amherst Hale Pratt, 1935–42)
New York. University Club. "[title not known]," October 13, 1948–March 20, 1949 (as Lady Charlotte Johnstone).
W. G. Menzies. "Art in the Saleroom." Apollo 11 (February 1930), ill. p. 148, as Portrait of a Lady by Reynolds in the Lewis collection.
David Mannings and Martin Postle. Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings (The Subject Pictures catalogued by Martin Postle). New Haven, 2000, vol. 1, p. 283, no. 1021; vol. 2, fig. 505, as painted about 1760; the sitter does not resemble Lady Charlotte Johnstone [for that portrait, see vol. 1, p. 283, no. 1020; vol. 2, fig. 506] and her identity is unknown.
Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 62–63, 96, no. 27, ill. (color).