Oil on Canvas

 
Painted circa 1811

Canvas size:
30 x 25 inches (76.25 x 63.5 cm)

Provenance:

With Ralston Galleries, New York, 1917, by whom acquired in the United Kingdom;
Edward Townsend Stotesbury, Whitemarsh Hall, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, until his death in 1938;
Eva Stotesbury;
Stotesbury Sale, Parke Bernet Galleries, New York, November 1944, Lot 1;
The Fitzgerald Family;
Sotheby’s, London, 13 November 1996, lot 69 (as “Portrait of a Lady”);
Private collection, United Kingdom


Exhibited:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, Loan Exhibition from the Stotesbury Collection, 1932 (as Lady in Red Cloak);

San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Masterpieces of English Portraiture…from the collection of the late Edward T. Stotesbury, 1941


Literature:

“Raeburn for Stotesbury,” The New York Times, March 1, 1917;
Henri Marceau, The Stotesbury Collection, The Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin, vol. xxviii, no. 151, December 1932, p. 21 and illustrated on opposite page (as Lady in Red Cloak);
The Connoisseur, August 1941, vol. 108, p. 79


This superb picture was painted by Raeburn around 1811 – a period when he was producing some of his most sensuous images of female sitters. Maria Sophia Abercromby was the third daughter of Sir George Abercromby, 4th Baronet of Birkenbog in Fyfe and his wife, Jane Ogilvy, the eldest daughter of Alexander, 7th Lord Banff. In 1810 she married the Hon. David Monypenny (born 1769). He became Solicitor-General on 22 February 1811, was admitted a Lord of Session on 25 February 1813, when he took the title of Lord Pitmilly, and also became a Lord of Justiciary. At the original constitution of the jury court in civil cases in Scotland he was nominated one of the Lords Commissioners on 13 June 1815.

Of particular interest is the 20th century provenance of this fine portrait. In 1917 it was purchased by Edward Townsend Stotesbury for his mansion Whitemarsh Hall in Philadelphia, where it hung in the drawing room. Stotesbury was from a Philadelphia Quaker family and became Philadelphia’s wealthiest citizen, an international banker who rose to senior partner of Drexel & Co. and J. P. Morgan & Co. In addition to other houses and estates, between 1916 and 1921 he built the vast neo-Palladian Whitemarsh Hall in a 250 acre park in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania as a present to his wife. Three of its six storeys were built below ground to preserve the house’s proportions. Since the 1890s he had been a discerning collector in many fields and periods, including gothic and medieval art which was then very sought after. His paintings ranged from Renaissance and old master works to 18th and 19th century British portraiture. Shortly after his marriage to Eva in 1912 he became a client of Joseph Duveen. Even the motor-car magnate, Henry Ford, after a visit to Whitemarsh Hall, is quoted as having said: “It was a great experience to see how the rich live.” In the final years of his life, Stotesbury’s annual expenditure was astronomic. He seemed determined to spend the fortune he had amassed. His widow Eva, faced with annual outgoings in excess of $1 million on Whitemarsh Hall alone, went to live in Washington and sold the art collections and her jewels.