National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Abigail Smith Babcock (Mrs. Adam Babcock) John Singleton Copley (painter)
American, 1738 - 1815
Abigail Smith Babcock (Mrs. Adam Babcock), c. 1774
oil on canvas
overall: 116.8 x 90.8 cm (46 x 35 3/4 in.) framed: 140.3 x 115.9 x 7 cm (55 1/4 x 45 5/8 x 2 3/4 in.)
Gift of Mrs. Robert Low Bacon
On View
From the Tour: John Singleton Copley
Object 6 of 12


Edwin A. Blake [1847-1928], the sitter's great-grandson;[1] sold 1916 to (Macbeth Galleries, New York);[2] purchased 1917 by Alice Greenwood Chapman, Milwaukee [1853-1935];[3] repurchased by (Macbeth Gallery, New York); sold 25 February 1919 to Arthur Meeker [1866-1946], Chicago.[4] Fannie Morris Babcock Murray [Mrs. Henry Alexander Murray, 1858-1940], New York;[5] her daughter, Virginia Murray Bacon [Mrs. Robert Low Bacon, 1890-1980], Washington, D.C.;[6] gift 1985 to NGA.

[1] Stephen Babcock, Babcock Genealogy, New York, 1903: 219; Wilkins Updike, A History of the Episcopal Church in Narragansett, Rhode Island, 2nd ed., Boston, 1907: 2: v; on Blake see the Journal of the Eightieth Session of the New York East Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1928: 665-667. The painting shares most of its history with the portrait of Adam Babcock [NGA 1978.79.1].

[2] Macbeth Gallery Papers, Archives of American Art, Washington, correspondence with Arthur Meeker, 16 January 1919. See also "Copley Portraits Sold," The New York Times (30 December 1916).

[3] Macbeth Gallery Papers, Archives of American Art, Washington, correspondence with Miss Chapman, 14 January to 19 June 1917. Miss Chapman made a first payment on the portrait and its pendant of Mr. Babcock in January 1917, but she changed her mind about the purchase. On Miss Chapman, a Milwaukee art patron and collector, see the Milwaukee Journal for 27 April 1935 (obituary) and 12 May 1935.

[4] Meeker, vice-president of Armour & Co. and a collector of American art, is listed in Who Was Who in America 2 (1943-1950, fourth printing 1946), 367; his obituary is in The New York Times (6 February 1946): 23. This painting and eight other American portraits in his collection were illustrated in an article by Henry Van Horn, "Arts and Decoration," Town and Country 77, no. 3801 (20 February 1921): 22-30; the painting is discussed on 22 and reproduced on 29. Although he offered to sell the portraits back to Macbeth in June 1925, there is no record in the Macbeth Gallery papers that they were repurchased (Macbeth Gallery Papers, Archives of American Art, Correspondence).

[5] Babcock 1903, 520; obituary, The New York Times (3 June 1940): 15; Mrs. Murray was a descendant of the sitter's brother Henry Babcock. According to Barbara neville Parker and Anne Bolling Wheeler, John Singleton Copley, American Portraits, Boston, 1938: 30, she acquired the portrait about 1930.

[6] Babcock 1903, 520; obituary, The New York Times (26 February 1980), reprinted in The New York Times Biographical Service 11, no. 2 (February 1980): 161. Adrian Lamb painted a copy of this portrait in 1979.

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