Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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John Singleton Copley (Boston, Massachusetts, 1738 - 1815, London, England)


Lady Temple (Elizabeth Bowdoin)

Creation Date



mid-18th century


23 5/8 x 18 1/2 x 1/2 in. (60 x 47 x 1 cm)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

pastel on paper laid down on canvas

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund, Laura T. and John H. Halford Jr., Art Acquisition Fund, Jane H. and Charles E. Parker Jr., Art Acquisition Fund, Greenacres Acquisitions Fund, and funds contributed by David and Barbara Roux P’14


Public Domain

Accession Number

John Singleton Copley portrays Elizabeth Bowdoin, James Bowdoin III’s older sister, as an elegant woman, fashionably dressed with a masterfully drawn fur-lined cloak. This pastel is one of more than fifty that Copley drew in America before his departure for England in 1774. So popular were his pastel portraits that the Boston artist was able to sell them for the same price as his oil paintings. They appear fresh, intimate, and unusually direct. This portrait was drawn on the occasion of Bowdoin’s marriage in 1767 to John Temple, a career customs official in colonial New England and later the first British ambassador to the United States. Two years earlier Copley had created a pastel portrait of John Temple, a work that is now in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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