One of the colonial period’s first professional sculptors, Patience Wright modeled portraits of famous people in tinted wax, exhibiting them with success in Philadelphia and New York City. Making sculptures began as a hobby, but following her husband’s death in 1769, Wright embarked on a professional career to support her five children. After a fire destroyed most of her work, she relocated to England in 1772. Well-connected members of society flocked to her studio, and her exhibitions attracted enthusiastic admirers, including King George III.
As tensions with the colonies intensified during the spring of 1775, Wright offered to send intelli-gence back home, observing, “Women are always useful in grand Events.” She fundraised for American prisoners of war and hosted pro-revolutionary meet-ings in her studio. Robert Edge Pine, an English artist sympathetic to the colonial cause, is believed to have painted this portrait shortly before immigrating to the United States.