About This Artwork

John Singleton Copley
American, 1738–1815

Mrs. Daniel Hubbard (Mary Greene), c. 1764

Oil on canvas
127.6 x 100.9 cm (50 1/4 x 39 3/4 in.)

Art Institute of Chicago Purchase Fund, 1947.28

America’s foremost portrait painter before the Revolutionary War, John Singleton Copley had completed his first compositions by the age of fifteen. Largely self-taught, the Boston painter often relied, as did English artists, on European prints for compositional models and, in particular, on the print collection of his stepfather and teacher, Peter Pelham, a mezzotint engraver. For this rendering of a wealthy merchant’s wife, Copley emulated the pose, gown, and background of an English noblewoman in a mezzotint portrait. Standing on a balcony or terrace, Mrs. Hubbard rests her arm on an embroidered cloth placed over a pedestal. As in the print, draperies and clouds billow behind her. Even the cherub carved in relief on the parapet is borrowed from the mezzotint. Nevertheless, the penetrating directness, vigorous execution, and precision of detail are Copley’s own; this particular indigenous sensibility was much appreciated throughout the colonies. The wealthy merchants and professionals Copley painted included Mrs. Hubbard’s husband (whose portrait is also in the Art Institute), as well as some of the colonies’ most influential personages, such as patriots Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere. Copley left America for England on the eve of the American Revolution and never returned.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Loan Exhibition, Feb. 28-?,1883, lent by William Scollay Whitwell.

Worcester Art Museum, Mass., New England Painting, 1700-1775, Feb. 17-Mar. 31, 1943, cat. 35, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Henry D. Tudor.

Art Institute of Chicago, From Colony to Nation, Apr. 21-June 19, 1949, cat. 33.

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Likeness of America, 1680-1820, July 5-Sept. 4, 1949, cat. 14.

Birmingham Museum of Art, Opening Exhibition, Apr. 8-June 3, 1951.

Fort Worth, Amon Carter Museum, The Face of Liberty, Dec. 23, 1975-Feb. 8, 1976, p. 93 .

Publication History

Frank W. Bayley, A Sketch of the Life and a List of Some of the Works of John Singleton Copley (Boston, 1910).

Frank W. Bayley, Five Colonial Artists of New England (Boston, 1929).

James T. Flexner, John Singleton Copley (Boston, 1948).

B. N. Parker and A.B. Wheeler, John Singleton Copley, American Portraits in Oil, Pastel, and Miniature with Biographical Sketches (Cambridge, Mass., 1938).

Jules David Prown. John Singleton Copley (Cambridge, Mass., 1966), 2 vols.

David Hanks, “American Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago,” Magazine Antiques (Sept. 1973), pp. 408-17.

Trevor Fairbrother, “John Singleton Copley’s Use of British Mezzotints for His American Portraits: A Reappraisal Prompted by New Discoveries,” Arts Magazine 55 (Mar. 1981), pp. 122-30.

Davida Tennenbaum Deutsch, “Needlework Patterns and Their Use in America,” Magazine Antiques (Feb. 1991), pp. 368-81.

T.H. Breen, “The Meaning of ‘Likeness’: Portrait-Painting in an Eighteenth-Century Consumer Society,” The Portrait in Eighteenth-Century America (Newark, 1993).

Carrie Rebora and Paul Staiti, John Singleton Copley in America, (New York, 1995).

Judith A. Barter et al., American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Art Institute of Chicago, 1998).

Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, This Violent Empire, (The University of North Carolina Press, 2012).

Ownership History

Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Hubbard, Boston, from 1764 to 1796; by descent to Mrs. Daniel Hubbard, Boston, from 1796 to 1808; by descent to Henry Hubbard, Boston, from 1808 to 1844; by descent to Mary Greene Hubbard, Boston, from 1844 to 1882; by descent to William Scollay Whitwell, Boston, from 1882 to 1899; by descent to his daughter Mary Hubbard Whitwell, Brookline, Mass, from 1899 to 1908; by descent to her sister, Mrs. William Tudor (Elizabeth Whitwell), Boston, from 1908 to 1929; by descent to her son, Henry Dubois Tudor, Cambridge, Mass, from 1929 to 1947; The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.

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