John Singleton Copley (American, 1738–1815)
Watercolor on ivory; 1 5/16 x 1 1/16 in. (3.3 x 2.7 cm)
Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, by exchange, Anonymous Gift, and Virginia Marvin Stoughton Bequest, 2006 (2006.235.32)
The greatest native-born portraitist in colonial America, Copley executed several fine miniatures. Painted for his wife, Suzannah Clarke, at the time of their marriage in 1769, this tiny watercolor on ivory shows a confident and affable young man (age thirty-one at the time) whose richly wrought figured-damask robe and gold-embroidered waistcoat are foiled by his crumpled linen collar. Each fabric texture in this masterful self-portrait is carefully delineated, as is the coarseness of the stylishly powdered hair and sharply focused face.