Oil on canvas
Framed: 94 x 81 x 6 cm (37 x 31 7/8 x 2 3/8 in.); Unframed: 75.6 x 62.2 cm (29 3/4 x 24 1/2 in.)
Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection 3919.1920
The appearance of a professionally trained British painter in the American colonies in 1729 marks a curcial point in the history of American art. Smibert not only imported the skills necessary to convey the impression of substantial, rounded forms in a picture, but his commercial success also inspired others to contemplate careers as painters. Born in Edinburgh and schooled in London and Italy, Smibert attracted numerous clients upon his arrival in Boston. The low bodice, long neck, and sinuous curl of hair in this portrait follow British conventions for depicting women. Research continues as to the identity of the sitter, long thought to be Mrs. Thomas Bulfinch (born Judith Colman, 1707-1765), since that name does not appear in Smibert's recently discovered records.
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