Portrait of Mrs. George Collier

Joshua Reynolds (British, 1723-1792)18th century

The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, United States

Given to the Cleveland Museum in 1920 by the collector Jeptha H. Wade, this painting was thought to be an authentic work by Joshua Reynolds. However, after considerable study, the museum attributed it to a follower of Reynolds working in a similar style around the same time. This portrait depicts the wife of the captain (and later admiral) George Collier. The artist draws an analogy between this woman and Lesbia, a married woman who provided much artistic inspiration for the Roman poet Catullus (c. 84–c. 54 BC). The poet's writings document a love affair with Lesbia, and one poem in particular documents the death of the woman's beloved pet sparrow. The viewer can barely see the sparrow in this painting, since it lies on a table partially obscured by her right elbow. The muted colors evoke a sense of melancholy as the woman mourns with her head turned away from the viewer.

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  • Title: Portrait of Mrs. George Collier
  • Creator: Joshua Reynolds (British, 1723-1792)
  • Date Created: 18th century
  • Physical Dimensions: Framed: 112 x 101 x 12 cm (44 1/8 x 39 3/4 x 4 3/4 in.); Unframed: 80 x 67.3 cm (31 1/2 x 26 1/2 in.)
  • Provenance: (possibly Mary Horneck Gwynn, sister in law of the sitter (1823), Sir William W. Knighton, Hampshire (1864, Christie's, London sale 21 May, 1885, no. 457, Mrs. Adelaide Ross, J. H. Wade, Cleveland (by 1913), Possib;y Mrs. George Collier, possibly by inheritance to her sister-in-law, Mary Horneck Gwynn,, Possibly Mary Horneck Gwynn, William Wellesley Knighton, 2nd Bt., 1836-1855 (London, England, and Blendworth Lodge, Hampshire, England), upon his death, held in trust by the estate, Estate of William Wellesley Knighton, sold, Christie's, London, May 21, 1885, lot 457, Mrs. Adelaide Ross (Stachelberg, New York), Jeptha Homer Wade, 1857-1926 (Cleveland, Ohio), by gift to the Cleveland Museum of Art, 1920.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1920.514
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Department: European Painting and Sculpture
  • Culture: England, 18th century
  • Credit Line: Gift of J. H. Wade
  • Collection: P - British before 1800
  • Accession Number: 1920.514

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