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Catherine Greene

Catherine Greene


John Singleton Copley

(American, 1738-1815)

Oil on canvas

Framed: 145.5 x 121 x 7 cm (57 5/16 x 47 5/8 x 2 3/4 in.); Unframed: 125.7 x 101 cm (49 1/2 x 39 3/4 in.)

Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1915.527


The Boston painter Copley's virtuosity at rendering luxurious textiles was precisely the kind of talent that appealed to his patrons. In 1769 the prosperous merchant John Greene commissioned a portrait of himself and this portrait of his wife, Catherine (1735–1785), after thirteen years of marriage. Shown at the age of 34, Mrs. Greene wears a fanciful costume inspired by ancient styles, strikes a pose derived from an English engraving, and pretends to lean against a rock that looks as insubstantial as a theatrical prop. This likeness places Mrs. Greene in an ideal realm far removed from mundane matters. The frame is original.

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