Henry Benbridge (American, Philadelphia 1743–1812 Philadelphia)
Watercolor on ivory
1 1/4 x 1 7/8 in. (3.2 x 4.8 cm)
Dale T. Johnson Fund, 1996
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 754
Born in Philadelphia, Benbridge studied in London and in Rome under Anton Raphael Mengs and Pompeo Batoni. In 1772, the artist settled in Charleston, where he became the city's fashionable portraitist after Jeremiah Theus died in 1774. This miniature exhibits Benbridge's colorful, linear, and crisply realistic portrait style, which is remarkably similar to that of John Singleton Copley. Dating from about 1770, it is one of the artist's earliest efforts in the medium, yet it shows more refinement than a number of his later works. The case, which is set with amethysts that match the gentleman's lavender waistcoat, is original to the piece.