John Singleton Copley (American, 17381815)
Watercolor on ivory; 1 1/2 x 1 1/4 in. (3.8 x 3.2 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1939 (39.174)
In 1769, Copley painted opulent full-length lifesize portraits of the merchant grandee Jeremiah Lee and his wife, Martha Swett, for their new home in Marblehead, Massachusetts. In his portrait, Lee wears a brown silk-velvet coat with gold buttons and a waistcoat trimmed in thick gold braid. Just a bit of this costume shows in the miniature Copley painted for him, one of several he commissioned to make his lavish image more portable. This version is held in a gold locket with twenty-six cut garnets set pointwise around the case, which was intended to be worn as a bracelet. The locket dates from the early nineteen century, suggesting that its owner reframed it in order to wear it on her wrist, rather than as a pin or on a ribbon.