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John Singleton Copley
Mrs. George Watson
1765
oil
49 7/8 x 40 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Partial gift of Henderson Inches, Jr., in honor of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Inches, and museum purchase made possible in part by Mr. and Mrs. R. Crosby Kemper through the Crosby Kemper Foundations; the American Art Forum; and the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment



Elizabeth Watson exudes confidence and sophistication with her direct gaze and self-assured pose. The imported porcelain vase with a hybrid tulip that she holds suggests her affluence. The wife of a successful Plymouth, Massachusetts, merchant, Elizabeth was Copley's cousin by marriage. Only twenty-seven at the time of this painting, Copley was the most sought after portrait painter in the colonies. His ability to describe reality convincingly is evident in Mrs. Watson's crimson dress, creamy complexion, and stately features.