John Smibert ( American, 1688 - 1751 )
Eleanor Nightingale poses clasping her silvery satin wrapping gown, a fashionable informal dress of the period. She gestures appropriately toward her husband, whose companion portrait would have been displayed nearby. This was painted the year she was married, commissioned to display Edward's new wife, a beautiful and voluptuous young woman. The column and green drapery in the background were invented by the artist to lend an air of importance and drama to the image. John Smibert was extremely talented at painting young women. This work is considered his most appealing London portrait of a female sitter. The inscription on the right-hand side identifies Eleanor as the daughter of Charles Ethelson Esquire and the wife of Edward Nightingale Esquire. It was probably added after her death as an act of remembrance.
Gail Davitt, DMA Exhibition Label Copy (1993.75) for Faces of a New Nation: Colonial American Portraits (October 19, 1997- January 10, 1998), September 1997.