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Print made by Edward Fisher, 1722–1785, British
after Sir Joshua Reynolds RA, 1723–1792, British
Lady Elizabeth Keppel and a Servant
Mezzotint on medium, slightly textured, cream laid paper
Sheet: 24 1/2 × 15 5/8 inches (62.2 × 39.7 cm), Plate: 23 5/8 × 14 5/8 inches (60 × 37.1 cm), and Image: 23 3/8 × 14 1/2 inches (59.4 × 36.8 cm)

Inscribed on verso in graphite, lower left: "u/t*"; lower center: "Mary of [...] "; lower right: "proof before all | letters £5.50"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
bust | crown | dresses | fire | flowers | garlands | goddess | incense | jewelry | kneeling | portrait | servant | statue | torch | tree
Associated People:
Keppel, Lady Elizabeth, Marchioness of Tavistock (1739-1768), bridesmaid to Queen Charlotte
Hymen (god of marriage)
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: As a COVID-19 precaution, the Study Room is closed until further notice.
Curatorial Comment:
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Reynolds’s “sitter-book” records eight appointments with Lady Keppel (1739–1768). The woman who accompanies her had two independent morning sittings in December 1761 (both after Keppel had been painted). We do not know her name, in place of which Reynolds entered a single word—“negro”—in his notebook. This terse archival trace confirms that she, like Lady Keppel, was painted from life. She is shown handing Keppel a garland of flowers with which to deck a statue of Hymen, the god of marriage. This detail alludes to Keppel’s recent role as a bridesmaid at the wedding of George III and Queen Charlotte. The dress worn by the servant may either be of glazed cotton, British silk, or possibly painted Chinese silk. If the woman was indeed Keppel’s servant, her dress may be a hand-me-down from her mistress, as was common in this period. The portrait (now at Woburn Abbey, UK) was exhibited at the Society of Artists as Whole length of a lady, one of her majesty’s bride maids. It was paid for by Lady Keppel’s brother, the third Earl of Albemarle (1724–1772). In 1762, shortly after the painting was finished, he would command British forces at the Battle of Havana, which resulted in Spain’s surrender of Cuba. This key victory of the Seven Years’ War reshaped the balance of power in the Atlantic. --This text served as the label to this object in Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain, an exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art that was curated by Esther Chadwick, Meredith Gamer, and Cyra Levenson, which was on view from October 2, 2014 until December 14, 2014.
Exhibition History:
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Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain (Yale Center for British Art, 2014-10-02 - 2014-12-14)

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