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SHELBURNE MUSEUM ACQUIRES JOHN SINGLETON COPLEY PORTRAIT OF MRS. JOHN SCOLLAY
LONG-SEPARATED PENDANT PORTRAITS REUNITE IN VERMONT
SHELBURNE, Vt. (Feb. 11, 2021)—Shelburne Museum has acquired a portrait by John Singleton Copley entitled Mrs. John Scollay (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 Director Thomas Denenberg announced.
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 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17. To register visit the museum’s website, shelburnemuseum.org
About Shelburne Museum
Founded in 1947 by pioneering folk art collector Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888–1960), Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, is the largest art and history museum in northern New England and Vermont’s foremost public resource for visual art and material culture. The Museum’s 45-acre campus is comprised of 39 buildings including the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education and Webb Gallery featuring important American paintings by Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Grandma Moses, John Singleton Copley, and many more. For more information, please visit shelburnemuseum.org.
John Singleton Copley (1738-1815), Mrs. John Scollay (Mercy Greenleaf), 1763. Oil on canvas, 35 1/4 x 28 in. Collection of Shelburne Museum, purchased with funds from Judith and James Pizzagalli, Marna and Charles Davis, Christine and Robert Stiller, and Heidi Drymer and Peter Graham. Image courtesy Shelburne Museum.
Electra Havemeyer Webb with portrait of John Scollay by John Singleton Copley (1738-1815), 1960. Gelatin silver print, 5 x 4 in. Collection of Shelburne Museum Archives. Image courtesy Shelburne Museum.