Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Portrait of 18C American Women

1756 John Singleton Copley 1733-1815 Anne Tyng (Mrs Thomas Smelt) 1756 Boston MFA

When Anne Tyng was born on October 22, 1733, in Middlesex, Massachusetts, her father, Edward, was 50, and her mother, Ann Waldo, was 25. She & her intended husband had posted their intention to marry on August 16, 1756, in Boston.  Less than 2 months later she did marry Captain Thomas Smelt, an officer in the British Army on October 3, 1756, in Boston, Massachusetts, where he had been born in 1734. Her father had died in 1754. Her mother had died in 1755. Her new husband died November 3, 1756. She died in November 5, 1756 in Boston, Massachusetts, at the age of 23.  She died just days after her new groom, in the year the painting was created.

During the 17C & 18C artists often were commissioned to paint their contemporaries as personifications & allegories. These paintings remained popular, as they expanded to show the wealthy sitter as a Greek goddess, or muse, or nymph in in a rustic setting. They grew to include portraits of a shepherdess in pastoral scenes wearing idealized attire, nothing like the clothing worn by real women tending sheep.  Usually these paintings were of young, unmarried gentlewomen.  The theme of the shepherdess was popular in 17C Dutch art, & it was not unusual for fashionable young women to have their likenesses rendered as such.  The shepherdess theme remained popular & expanded throughout the 18C on both sides of the Atlantic.