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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Dwight Primiano.

Mrs. Theodore Atkinson Jr. (Frances Deering Wentworth)

Artist: John Singleton Copley (1738 - 1815)
Date: 1765
51 x 40 in. (129.5 x 101.6 cm)
Framed: 59 in. × 48 3/4 in. × 4 3/8 in.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2005.24
Inscriptions: verso, on top stretcher member, in pencil: Frances Deering Wentworth, daughter of Samuel Wentworth and Elizabeth Deering of Boston, Mass., was born Sept. 30, 1745. [some text now covered with paper tape] / Married first, May 14, 1762, her cousin, Theodore Atkinson, Jr., Secretary of the Province of New Hampshire, who died Oct. 28, 1769. Married second, Nov. 11, 1769, another cousin, John Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire. In 1775 they went to England. He was created Baronet / and appointed Governor of Nova Scotia where he died. Lady Wentworth died in England 1813. verso, on center stretcher member, in pencil: Lady Wentworth painted by J.S. Copley 1765 verso, on stretcher, in chalk: Lady W - J.S.C., New York Public Library, SL 2611.1 verso, on stretcher, exhibition labels: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Signed: l.r., below the rim of table, in black paint: John S. Copley. pinx / 1765
On View
Accession Number: 2005.24
Provenancecommisioned by Theodore Atkinson, Jr. [1737-1769] (sitter's husband), Portsmouth, NH; by bequest to Theodore Atkinson, Sr. [1697-1779] (his father), Portsmouth, NH, 1769; (probably) by bequest to George King Atkinson [d. 1788] (his cousin), 1779; by bequest to William King [1765-1838] (his nephew), Dover, NH, 1788; Frances Atkinson Freeman [b. 1797] (his daughter), Dover, NH, 1838; purchased by John Fisher Sheafe [1805-1882] for James Lenox [1800-1880] (his brother-in-law), NY, 1872; given to New York Public Library, Astor Lenox and Tilden Foundations, NY, 1876; to (Sotheby's, New York, NY), November 30, 2005, lot 4; purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2005
Label TextJohn Singleton Copley was the painter of choice for discerning Bostonians because he was a master at combining real and ideal elements to make a flattering portrait, the way we might use filters or Photoshop tools today.

Here, Copley painted specific facial features to convey Mrs. Atkinson’s likeness, but he added an imaginary silk gown, rich velvet drapery, and the view to the outdoors based on European portraiture conventions. These, combined with other symbols, such as the chained flying squirrel, communicated to eighteenth-century viewers that she was a fine lady of grace and discipline.