4th Jun, 2023 14:00 EDT

American Art and Pennsylvania Impressionists Featuring the Papageorge Family Collection

  Lot 66


John Singleton Copley (American, 1737–1815)
Portrait of Mrs. Elizabeth Coffin Amory, Bust-Length

Titled and dated ‘1775’ on old label on middle stretcher verso, oil on canvas
30 1/4 x 25 in. (76.8 x 63.5cm)


Collection of Edward Dexter Sohier, the sitter's son-in-law, Longwood, Massachusetts, 1873.
By descent to his granddaughters.
Collection of Dr. Julia T. and Miss Sarah I. Metcalf, Los Angeles, California.
By descent to their niece.
Collection of Louisa Metcalf, Winthrop, Massachusetts, by 1966.
Estate of Louisa Metcalf.
Sotheby's, New York, sale of November 30, 2000, lot 119.
Acquired directly from the above sale.
The Papageorge Family Collection, Carversville, Pennsylvania.

$120,000 - $180,000

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Titled and dated ‘1775’ on old label on middle stretcher verso, oil on canvas
30 1/4 x 25 in. (76.8 x 63.5cm)


Collection of Edward Dexter Sohier, the sitter's son-in-law, Longwood, Massachusetts, 1873.
By descent to his granddaughters.
Collection of Dr. Julia T. and Miss Sarah I. Metcalf, Los Angeles, California.
By descent to their niece.
Collection of Louisa Metcalf, Winthrop, Massachusetts, by 1966.
Estate of Louisa Metcalf.
Sotheby's, New York, sale of November 30, 2000, lot 119.
Acquired directly from the above sale.
The Papageorge Family Collection, Carversville, Pennsylvania.


Augustus T. Perkins, Sketch of the Life and a List of Some of the Works of John Singleton Copley, self-printed, Boston, 187, p. 31.
Gertrude E. Meredith, The Descendants of Hugh Amory, Cheswick Press, London: 1901, p. 347.
Barbara Neville Parker and Anne Bolling Wheeler, John Singleton Copley: American Portraits, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1938, p. 25, pl. 124 (illustrated).
Jules David Prown, John Singleton Copley: In America 1738-1774, Vol. I, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1966, p. 207, pl. 305 (illustrated as Mrs. Thomas Amory II).
Carrie Rebora Barratt and Paul Staiti, John Singleton Copley in America, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (distributed by H.N. Abrams), New York, 1995, pp. 278, 280 (illustrated).


Mrs. Elizabeth Coffin Amory was the daughter of Anne Holmes and William Coffin, a successful distiller of Boston, Massachusetts, who fled to Quebec after the Boston invasion in 1776. Born in 1743, she married at age 19 her cousin, Thomas Amory II (1722-1784), the eldest son of a prominent merchant and rum distiller–a business he would later recoup after graduating from Harvard. In Boston, the pair resided in the Governor Belcher House, at the corner of Washington and Harvard Streets, and went on to have nine children together.

By the time he painted the portrait of Elizabeth, Copley had already completed a portrait of her brother-in-law, Thomas' younger brother, John, and of his wife, Katherine Greene, which now hangs in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. John would later commission several portraits of himself, along with the present portrait of his wife, which captures the sitter's modesty in a striking life-like manner. Copley is here at the height of his talent, and demonstrates his expert handling of the brush, which he applies smoothly and delicately onto the canvas. Set against a dark background, which vividly contrasts with her white dress, Elizabeth stands out as the true focus of the painting, undisturbed by any props, companion or frivilous details–a hint at her very simple, reasonable way of life. The satin of her clothes, paired with the rather elaborate hairdo are the only elements relative to her status. Yet, her intense gaze does not provoke us or betray any pride, but merely invites us to behold the secret of her existence.


The relined canvas in overall very good, beautiful condition, with trimmed edges. With minor frame abrasions along the very extreme outer edges of the work (mostly covered by the frame when the work is framed). Fine surface craquelure, especially visible in the shiny background, but very light and flat (stabilized). Examination under UV light reveals swaths of old greenish varnish throughout, especially in the background. The sitter herself appears to have been cleaned. Only a few, very minor (if not minuscule) pindots of localized inpainting are to be mentioned: on the sitter's top hair and forehead at upper center, on her bosom, the top of her white dress and the left outline of her blue shawl at bottom center. Other similar pinpoint dots can be found in the work's upper corners and at bottom right, as well as in the background at upper left quadrant and bottom left. See Specialist's images for more details.

To request receive additional images or for more information about this Lot, please email Specialist Specialist Raphael Chatroux at rchatroux@freemansauction.com

Frame: 36 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 2 1/2 in.

Please note: All lots show signs of wear consistent with age and use, and the absence of a statement regarding condition issues does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from imperfections or the effects of aging.

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