In 1781, Thomas Willing (1731–1821) was elected head of the Bank of North America in order to raise funds for the Revolutionary cause. This portrait apparently commemorates that appointment. To the sitter’s left is a view of the lighthouse in Cape Henlopen, Delaware, for the building of which he had contributed funds. Willing holds an oval Wedgwood snuffbox bearing the profile of his close friend George Washington.
Signature: [at right below edge of parapet]: C W Peale / pinx 1782
the subject, Philadelphia, died 1821; his son, Richard Willing, Philadelphia, died 1858; his daughter, Ellen Willing; her brother, Edward Shippen Willing, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania (according to a label on the stretcher); his daughter, Ava Lowle Willing (Mrs. John Jacob Astor, later Lady Ribblesdale), died 1925; her grandson, Ivan Obolensky, by 1964 until 1966; with Robert G. Osborne New York, 1966