COPLEY, John Singleton
(b. 1738, Boston, d. 1815, London)
Mrs John Winthrop1773
Oil on canvas, 90,2 x 73 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Copley was America's foremost painter of the 18th century. This portrait, painted just before he left Boston for England, represents Copley at the height of his power and exhibits the intensive realism that was the principal characteristic of his work at that time. Hannah Fayerweather Winthrop was an articulate and intelligent colonist, the wife of America's first prominent astronomer, a professor at Harvard University. Copley has rendered the varying textures of her muslin cap, silk dress, and lace cuffs with remarkable precision; in painting the table surface upon which she rests her hands, he demonstrated a degree of technical competence equalled by few of his contemporaries.