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A portrait of a seated woman facing left and looking at us

In a long white satin and lace dress and wearing an elaborate hat, the woman looks at us with a calm, faintly smiling expression. White lace hangs from the wide brim of her hat, which is piled high with large white plumage and tied with a rose colored satin ribbon. In her gloved hand she holds a white handkerchief, and a wrap that she wears around her shoulders, blows out in front of her in a breeze. Behind her is a dark tree, and wispy clouds that fill the sky, which ranges from vivid orange at the low horizon to a deep blue above.

Gallery Text

Copley painted this portrait of his step-niece ten years after he fled the chaos of revolutionary Boston to settle in London. With its striking, windswept sitter; dramatic background of whites, blues, yellows, and reds; and vigorous brushwork and ridges of impasto, the portrait shows how fully Copley embraced the ideals of high-style British portraiture. It shows a confidence and freedom that is absent in the more direct and methodical works he made in New England.

This portrait is tied to a story of transatlantic travel and exchange. Rogers, born in Massachusetts, went to Europe soon after her marriage in 1781. She and her husband visited the Copley family at Windsor Castle, where this portrait was painted. The work was eventually shipped to Massachusetts, and was passed down through the Rogers family along with several portraits Copley painted while working in Boston in the 1760s.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
John Singleton Copley, American (Boston, MA 1738 - 1815 London, England)
Abigael Bromfield Rogers (Mrs. Daniel Denison Rogers) (1753-1791)
Work Type
c. 1784
Creation Place: North America, United States
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2220, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, Rococo and Neoclassicism in the Eighteenth Century
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
127 x 101.6 cm (50 x 40 in.)
frame: 150.5 x 125.1 x 8.9 cm (59 1/4 x 49 1/4 x 3 1/2 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Abigail Bromfield Rogers; to her son Henry B. Rogers, Boston, MA; by descent through family to Mrs. W. C. Cabot; to Miss A. P. Rogers, 1915; to a relative, Henry B. Cabot, to his wife, Mrs. Henry B. Cabot, by 1938; to relatives Mr. and Mrs. Paul C. Cabot; their gift to the Fogg Art Museum, 1977.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Paul C. Cabot, Treasurer of Harvard University, 1948-1965 and Mrs. Cabot
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Henry T. Tuckerman, Book of the Artists: American Artist Life, Comprising Biographical and Critical Sketches of American Artists, Preceded by an Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of Art in America, Putnam (New York, NY, 1867), p. 73
  • Augustus Thorndyke Perkins, A Sketch of the Life and a List of Some of the Works of John Singleton Copley, J. R. Osgood & Company (Boston, MA, 1873), pp. 99-100
  • Samuel Green Wheeler Benjamin, Art in America: A Critical and Historical Sketch, Harper and Brothers Publishers (New York, NY, 1880), ill. frontispiece
  • Martha Babcock Amory, The Domestic and Artistic Life of John Singleton Copley, R.A., Houghton Mifflin Company (Boston, MA, 1882), p. 107
  • Frank William Bayley, The Life and Works of John Singleton Copley: Founded on the Work of Augustus Thorndike Perkins, The Taylor Press (Boston, MA, 1915), p. 209 (as Mrs. Abigail Rogers)
  • Theodore Bolton and Henry Lorin Binsse, "John Singleton Copley", The Antiquarian (New York, NY, December 1930), pp. 116-118., p. 118
  • John Singleton Copley, exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA, 1938), p. 27, cat. 66
  • Historical Records Survey, Division of Professional and Service Projects, Works Progress Administration, American Portraits, 1620-1825, found in Massachusetts, Volumes 1 and 2, Historical Records Survey (Boston, MA, 1939), p. 343, cat. 1826
  • The catalogue of Old and New England; an exhibition of American painting of colonial and early republican days, together with English painting of the same time, exh. cat., Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art (Providence, RI, 1945), p. 39, cat. 22, ill.
  • John Singleton Copley, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C, 1965), p. 109, cat. 81, color pl. XV
  • Jules David Prown, John Singleton Copley, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1966), vol. 2, pp. 296, 430, pl. 428
  • John Singleton Copley (1738-1815), Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), Benjamin West (1738-1820) in America and England, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA, 1976), p. 29, cat. 18, ill. p. 7
  • James Thomas Flexner, America's Old Masters, Doubleday & Co. (Garden City, NY, 1980), pp. 152-153, ill.
  • Robert F. Perkins, Jr. and William J. Gavin, III, Boston Athenaeum Art Exhibition Index, 1827-1874, The Library of the Boston Athenaeum (Boston, MA, 1980), p. 39
  • William J. Shank, "John Singleton Copley's Portraits: A Technical Study of Three Representative Examples" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, July 1983), Unpublished, pp. 1-45 passim
  • William J. Shank, "John Singleton Copley's Portraits: A Technical Study of Three Representative Examples", Journal of the American Institute for Conservation (Washington, D.C., 1984), vol. 23, pp. 130-152, pp. 134-135, ill.
  • Leslie Reinhardt, "John Singleton Copley in England", Archives of American Art Journal, Smithsonian Institution (Detroit, MI, 1994), vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 28-32, p. 29, ill. p. 30
  • Timothy Anglin Burgard, American Art at Harvard: Cultures and Contexts, brochure, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1994), p. 11, cat. 51
  • Erica E. Hirshler, "Copley in Miniature", John Singleton Copley in America, ed. Carrie Rebora Barratt, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1995-1996), pp. 117-126, p. 124
  • William L. Pressly, "The Challenge of New Horizons", John Singleton Copley in England, ed. Emily Ballew Neff, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX, 1995), pp. 53-54, ill. p. 135
  • Ellen G. Miles, American Paintings of the Eighteenth Century, National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C, 1995), p.226
  • Emily Ballew Neff, ed., John Singleton Copley in England, exh. cat., The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX, 1995), pp. 134-135, cat. 16, ill.
  • Robin Jaffee Frank, Love and Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures, exh. cat., Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, CT, 2000), pp. 134-136, 345, fig. 74.
  • Kimberly Orcutt, Process and Paradox: The Historical Pictures of John Singleton Copley, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2004), pp. 3-4, ill., 12
  • John Updike, Still Looking: Essays on American Art, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (New York, 2005), ill. p. 21
  • Margaret A. Hogan, ed., The Adams Papers: Adams Family Correspondence, January 1786 - February 1787, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 2005), p. 38, fig. 3
  • Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press (U.S.) and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), pp. 151-152, cat. 94, ill.
  • Prof. Jane Kamensky, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley, W.W. Norton & Company (New York, 2016), pp.334-335; repr. as fig.10-12 on p.335

Exhibition History

  • Unidentified Exhibition, Boston Athenaeum, 1828, Boston Athenaeum, Boston, 01/01/1828 - 12/31/1828
  • John Singleton Copley 1737-1815, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 02/01/1938 - 03/15/1938
  • Old and New England, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, 01/19/1945 - 02/19/1945
  • John Singleton Copley, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 09/18/1965 - 10/31/1965; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 11/20/1965 - 01/02/1966; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 01/22/1966 - 03/06/1966
  • Copley, Stuart and West in America and England, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 10/17/1976 - 11/07/1976
  • American Art at Harvard: Cultures and Contexts, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/01/1994 - 12/30/1994
  • John Singleton Copley in England, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 10/11/1995 - 01/07/1996; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, 02/04/1996 - 04/28/1996
  • Process and Paradox: The Historical Pictures of John Singleton Copley, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 05/08/2004 - 08/29/2004
  • 32Q: 2220 18th-19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project
  • Collection Highlights

Related Works

Verification Level

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