By Katharine Baetjer
Британская портретная живопись из собрания The Metropolitan Museum of artwork
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Extra info for British Portraits in The Metropolitan Museum of Art
During a career of forty years he painted nearly five thousand miniatures, working always to a high standard of quality. The sitter here, Elizabeth Colden De Lancey, was a native of New York whose father and brother-inlaw had been lieutenant governors and British loyalists. This sober portrait may be the one mentioned in Engleheart's sitters' book on December 23, 1783; if so, it was painted in London nine months before Mrs. De Lancey's death. She returned to her estate, Spring Hill, near Flushing, Long Island, where she died on September 22, I784.
A protege of Reynolds, Kauffmann was one of two women honored in 1768 with founder membership in the Royal Academy. ) She worked with both Robert Adam and William Chambers, England's most important Neoclassical architects, providing various designs for Adam's interiors and in the late I770s supplying four allegories for Chambers's new rooms for the Royal Academy at Somerset House. The most popular and prolific exponent of Neoclassical history painting in England, Kauffmann exhibited there until the I790s, long after she had settled in Rome, where she died in 1807.
She hadbeen paintedin the year of her having seen active service. Reynolds shows a young manwith a mild, inexpressiveface. Coussmakercan be imaginedin the artist's studio leaningcomfortablyon a pedestalreplacedin the paintingby the butt of the sawn-off tree limb. VigorousRubensian brushworkis combinedwith a pose so informal andrelaxedas to have suggestedcomparison with Gainsborough'sstyle of the same date. The horsewith its loweredhead is very marriageby Gainsborough. Watson's costumewould have been a fashionstatement.