Enfilade

Online Talk | A New Copley Acquisition

Posted in Art Market, museums, online learning by Editor on February 16, 2021

This Wednesday, from Vermont’s Shelburne Museum, as announced at ArtDaily:

Together Again: A New Acquisition Reunites a Pair of Copley Portraits
Online, Shelburne Museum, 17 February 2021, 6pm (ET)

Join Shelburne Museum director Tom Denenberg to learn about an exciting new acquisition for the Museum’s American painting collection and the intriguing circumstances that led to the reunion of a long-separated couple.

The Shelburne Museum has acquired a portrait by John Singleton Copley entitled Mrs. Mercy Scollay (née Mercy Greenleaf), a pendant painting to the portrait in the museum’s permanent collection, Mr. John Scollay, reuniting the long-separated portraits of wife and husband, Shelburne Museum.

John Singleton Copley, Portrait of Mrs. Mercy Scollay, 1763, 90 × 71 cm (Shelburne, VT: Shelburne Museum).

John Scollay, a chairman of the Boston Board of Selectmen and member of the Sons of Liberty, commissioned Copley (1738–1815), the preeminent portraiture artist in the American colonies, for this portrait of his wife as a pendant to his own portrait. Completed in 1763, Mrs. Scollay’s portrait demonstrates Copley’s talents and abilities as a painter as evidenced through the beautifully rendered fabric draped around the sitter.

Shelburne Museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb assembled the American paintings collection with the intention of juxtaposing well-known artists such as Copley with lesser-known itinerant or ‘folk’ painters. She purchased the portrait of John Scollay from Harry Shaw Newman at the Old Print Shop in New York City in 1959. The Museum’s extensive collection of American paintings tell a story about how the fine arts developed and came of age in the United States, and the reunion of these pendants continues to enrich the narrative.

The museum is presenting a webinar on the new acquisition and the story of how these two paintings were reunited. Denenberg will discuss the intriguing circumstances that led to the reunion of the long-separated couple. The evening will be a tale of revolutionary Boston, featuring the young John Singleton Copley and his portraits of Mercy Greenleaf and John Scollay. Live Q&A follows the presentation. Together Again: A New Acquisition Reunites a Pair of Copley Portraits is at 6pm on Wednesday, February 17. To register visit the museum’s website.

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The portrait of Mrs. Mercy Scollay sold at Sotheby’s American Art sale on 11 December 2020 (Lot 23) for $126,000.