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.)
The Art Institute of Chicago Purchase Fund, 1947.28

Mrs. Daniel Hubbard is one of approximately 300 portraits of American colonists—primarily wealthy and influential Bostonians—that John Singleton Copley painted during his career in the United States. A decade after completing this portrait, Copley moved permanently to England, in part to pursue a career as a history painter and also to escape the revolutionary climate in the colonies, which placed his family in danger since his father-in-law was a Tory.

Copley presents Mary Green Hubbard, wife of prosperous Boston merchant Daniel Hubbard, standing on a large balcony with heavy drapes on the left and billowing clouds in the background. She leans against a stone ledge decorated with a relief of a cupid. The patterns for a floral needlework design under her elbow echo Mrs. Hubbard's lace sleeves and testify to her ability to do needlework, a skill expected of wealthy young women. The luxury items she wears—olive-green silk dress, lace chemise, and choker—indicate her upper-class status.

Copley borrowed the pose, costume, and background of his representation of Mrs. Hubbard from a British mezzotint of a noblewoman. Because colonists often looked to British society for standards of taste and culture, English mezzotints were common sources for American artists—especially Copley, whose stepfather, Peter Pelham, was an English mezzotint engraver.

John Singleton Copley
American, 1738–1815
Daniel Hubbard

Oil on canvas
127.2 x 100.8 cm (50 1/8 x 39 11/16 in.)
Signed on base of column: "John S. Copley pinx. 1764"
The Art Institute of Chicago Purchase Fund, 1947.27

Copley's portrait of Daniel Hubbard emphasizes the sitter's status as a confident and wealthy merchant. Seated on a costly mahogany chair in an imaginary interior with a Classical column and drapery swag, Hubbard gazes directly at the viewer. Resting under his arm is a thick, leather-bound book, perhaps a financial ledger. Hubbard's right arm is cocked on his hip; the assertive gesture reveals the bright white, silk waistcoat he wears under his conservative brown wool suit coat with its enormous cuffs buttoned at the elbows. Expensive brocades, silks, and velvets, imported from England during the colonial period, are displayed conspicuously in Copley's paintings to indicate both the wealth and the pro-English sentiments of his sitters.

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