Sarah Sherburne Langdon


John Singleton Copley ( American, 1738 - 1815 )

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General Description

Mr. and Mrs. Woodbury Langdon commissioned Copley to paint their likenesses, knowing he would capture their youthful good looks. The portraits served as centerpieces of the Langdons' newly decorated and extravagant home. In these portraits, Copley conveyed the increasingly self-confident image of the colonists.

Sarah Sherbourne Langdon appears as a woman of charm and elegance, suggesting warmth, vulnerability, and a youthful naivete. Her uncorseted white satin gown and green robe complement her husband's attire. To 18th-century viewers, her bouquet of flowers symbolized the cultivation that was basic to her discipline, handiwork, and character. The romantic garden setting was invented by the artist to imitate the background found in fashionable English portraiture.

Adapted from

Gail Davitt, DMA Exhibition label text, 1997.

Related Multimedia

Collection smARTphone video; Sue Canterbury discusses two portraits by John Singleton Copley (DMA collection 1996.70.2.McD; 1996.70.1.McD)
Collection smARTphone video; Sue Canterbury discusses the techniques John Singleton Copely used to unite the two portraits (DMA collection 1996.70.2.McD; 1996.70.1.McD)
Learn about John Singleton Copley (1738–1815).

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