18th-Century American School Portrait Of A Lady In Profile

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This beautiful 18th-century portrait depicts an elegant lady dressed in a low-necked gown with her hair tied up in a knot.

It dates to around 1765 when this simple style was common in the United States and England. In contrast to the flourishes of the French, the English style was practical and catered to an outdoor lifestyle.

The portrait reminds us of a work by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) depicting Caroline Cox dressed in a similar way. Note the neckline, hairstyle and right shoulder.

The painting was relined during the 19th-century and carries what appears to be a Christie’s stencil on the reverse. It’s easy to imagine that this was once attributed to an 18th-century master but perhaps that’s been lost over time. We may never know the true story and it’s certainly a very interesting piece.

Medium
Oil on canvas
Overall size
17” x 21½” / 43cm x 55cm
Year of creation
c. 1765
Provenance
USA
Condition
The painting has several areas of paint loss but the paint layer is now stable following an earlier restoration. The canvas has been relined and bears the marks of its previous frame. Unusually, the bottom part of the neckline appears to have been added later - perhaps by the restorer.