John Russell (English, 1745–1806)
Pastel on paper, laid down on canvas
23 3/4 x 17 3/4 in. (60.3 x 45.1 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Wiesenberger, 1961 (61.182.2)
Sarah Man Godschall offers a rather more imposing presence than her husband, depicted by Russell in a pendant portrait (61.182.1). Born Sarah Godschall (1730–1795), she is recorded on the family memorial in the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Albury as the heiress of both Nicholas Godschall, Esquire, her father, and Sir Robert Godschall, Knight, her uncle. A woman of property, she is depicted here on her fortieth wedding anniversary in an elaborate white cap and fichu, with a large posy of flowers pinned to her gown. Sarah Man Godschall takes up a larger proportion of the picture surface than her husband, perhaps an indication of her important social standing. Both paintings were hung in the dining room of the family home, Weston House.
Russell often depicts his sitters against this type of blended blue background. Unusually, he has left visible here the many different-colored chalks (blue, beige, black, and brown) with which he has described Sarah Man Godschall's hair. He must have known the Man Godschalls for almost a quarter of a century prior to the commission of these pastel portraits. An entry in his diary for March 28, 1768, records an appointment "to see paintings at Mr. Mann Godschall's."