Portrait of Mrs. Thomas Watkinson Payler
Portrait of Mrs. Thomas Watkinson Payler

Portrait of Mrs. Thomas Watkinson Payler

Joshua Reynolds (British, DO NOT USE-1792)

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This portrait was done at the time of the sitter's marriage to Thomas Watkinson Payler in 1771. The following year, her twenty-four-year-old husband's portrait was completed by Reynolds as a companion piece. For the two pictures the artist was paid seventy guineas, a considerable sum for the time. Reynolds, having been appointed the first president of the Royal Academy in 1768, enjoyed a reputation as the foremost portraitist of his age.

By descent within the family of Mrs. Thomas Watkinson Payler (née Charlotte Hammond) [1747-1810] to Egerton Hammond, Non[n]ington, Kent, England, until about 1931. {1} Probably purchased from Egerton Hammond by (Robert C. Vose Galleries, Boston, Massachusetts); {2} Purchased by George Henry Alexander Clowes of Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1935; {3} Clowes Fund Collection, Indianapolis, Indiana; On long-term loan to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Courtesy of the Clowes Fund, since 1971 (C10065); given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2015.

{1} See copy of certificate, signed by W. Roberts, London, England, and dated 26 November 1931, in IMA Conservation File. Beneath the spandrel of the frame on the rectangular canvas at bottom left in red paint: “Mrs. Payler./Sir Josh. Reynolds.” Pendant portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Payler were painted a few months after their marriage in January 1771; see Algernon Graves and William Vine Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds P.R.A., vol. 2, 1899, p. 735.
{2} On the remnants of a label one can read “Lent Robert C. Vose Galleries/168.1930.”
{3} The painting was shown at the exhibition American and European Painting from Vose Galleries at the John Herron Art Institute, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, in 1935; see Archives of American Art, Vose Galleries, Box 8, Folder 4 (JHAI). These records at the Archives of American Art also include an exhibition checklist with prices, as well as a letter from JHAI to Robert C. Vose indicating that a commission was paid to JHAI when Dr. Clowes purchased the painting out of this exhibition.

Object Information

Joshua Reynolds (British, DO NOT USE-1792)
creation date
oil on canvas
30 x 25 in.
approximately 40 x 34 x 4 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
The Clowes Collection
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture Before 1800

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