Thomas Sully (1783–1872)

Portrait of Blanch Sully, 1839

Oil on paperboard, 24 x 20 in. (61.0 x 50.8 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2000.2

A longtime denizen of Philadelphia, Thomas Sully was one of the most prolific and successful American portrait painters of the early nineteenth century. His daughter Blanch, the apparent favorite of his six children, often modeled for him as a surrogate for female subjects between sittings. In 1837 she accompanied her father to London, where she modeled for his two full-length likenesses of the newly crowned, teenaged Queen Victoria. Two years later, Sully painted this bust portrait of Blanch. She is shown with her head turned to the left, a graceful pose that shows off herslender neck and fashionable hairstyle. Sully left the background indistinct, thus concentrating our attention on his beloved daughter’s placid oval face. The fluid brushwork, delicate features, and dreamy gaze of the subject are typical of the artist’s flattering portrayals.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.