Monday, November 18, 2013
John Singleton Copley 1738-1815 paints American Women in Blue
John Singleton Copley is recognized as one of the first native-born painters to achieve success both at home and abroad. Alice Hooper, painted by Copley around 1763, depicts the seventeen-year-old daughter of the wealthiest man in Marblehead, Massachusetts, Robert “King” Hooper. Alice’s father commissioned this portrait to mark his daughter’s engagement to Jacob Fowle, Jr.
Alice Hooper’s composition is one of a series of women depicted in fantasy garden settings, which are reportedly descended from John Faber’s 1691 engraving after Sir Godfrey Kneller’s Duchess of Grafton (ca. 1680).
The painting also provides vivid additional evidence of Copley’s working methods. Like many of his colonial American colleagues, the artist borrowed costumes & compositions from imported engravings of high-style British portraits. These appropriations were done with the full cooperation of his clients, who wanted to emulate the aristocrats of the mother country.
Although he painted most of his gentlewomen in blue gowns in outdoor gardens in 1763-64, he had begun as early as 1758 to portray these images.
1763 John Singleton Copley (American colonial era artist, 1738-1815) Mary Tappan (Mrs Benjamin Pickman)
Although portrayed in a more conservative riding outfit, the following portrait might also be considered as part of this series.