About this artwork
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.
- John Singleton Copley
- Mrs. Daniel Hubbard (Mary Greene)
- Oil on canvas
- 127.6 × 100.9 cm (50 1/4 × 39 3/4 in.)
- Art Institute of Chicago Purchase Fund