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Print made by William Faithorne, 1656–ca. 1701
after Sir Peter Lely, 1618–1680

Beauty's Tribute (Elizabeth Cooper)

Part Of:

Collective Title: Portraits of Ladies in Mezzotints

Mezzotint on medium, slightly textured, cream laid paper
Plate: 13 11/16 × 10 3/16 inches (34.8 × 25.8 cm), Sheet: 12 1/2 × 10 1/8 inches (31.8 × 25.7 cm), Image: 12 5/8 × 10 1/8 inches (32 × 25.7 cm)

Inscribed in graphite, below image, lower center: "Miss Cooper"

Lettered, below image, lower left: "Beauty commands submifsion as it's due, | Nor is't the slave alone that owns this true," | PLeilly Eques pinx :" ; lower right: "Much fairer Youths shall this just tribute pay, | None Fate deplore, but thankfully obey" | W Faithorne fee" ; lower center: "BEAUTY'S | TRIBUTE | Sold by W. Herbert at the Golden Globe on London Bridge."

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
boy | children | fountain | garden | genre subject | girl | grapes | house | landscape | portrait | servant | tree
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IIIF Manifest:

In a lush garden with glimpses of a house and fountain beyond, a kneeling boy—whose identity as African or Asian remains unclear—presents a girl with a bunch of grapes. This mezzotint is based on a late seventeenth-century painting by Sir Peter Lely of Elizabeth Cooper, daughter of an eminent London print publisher. Whereas engravings after painted portraits usually retained the name of the sitter, Faithorne’s print shows how portraits could also be recast as generic images for a wider public audience. The composition closely follows Lely’s earlier portrait of Lady Charlotte Fitzroy; it replicates the kneeling boy while altering the girl’s features. A title and four lines of verse have been added that shift the emphasis away from Cooper’s specific likeness towards a generalized depiction of “beauty”:

Beauty commands Submission as it’s due,
Nor is’t the Slave alone that owns this true.
Much fairer Youths shall this just Tribute pay,
one Fate deplore, but thankfully obey.

While the image explicitly contrasts the girl’s whiteness with the boy’s darker skin, the verse suggests that all (enslaved and free, black and white) will willingly submit to a natural order in which “beauty”—implied here to be European and white—reigns supreme.

Gallery label for Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain (Yale Center for British Art, 2014-10-02 - 2014-12-14)

David Bindman, The Image of the Black in Western Art, From the " Age of Discovery " to the Age of Aboloition Artists of the Renaissance and Baroque , vol. 3, part 1, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; London, England, 2010, pp. 265, 266, pl. 149, N8232 I42 2010 vol.3,part 1 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) Citation is to Volume 3, Part 1 [YCBA]

Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2014, p. 41, V 2556 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Catherine Molineux, Faces of Perfect Ebony, Encountering Atlantic Slavery in Imperial Britain , Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2012, pp. 32, 33, fig. 1.3, DA125.N4 M65 2012 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Slavery and Portraiture in 18th-century Atlantic Britain, [Website] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2015, Available online https://interactive.britishart.yale.edu/slavery-and-portraiture/ [Website]

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