The Honorable Mrs. John Proby, Later Lady Carysfort (née Elizabeth Allen)

Accession Number

The Honorable Mrs. John Proby, Later Lady Carysfort (née Elizabeth Allen)

Francis Cotes

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
pastel on paper, laid on canvas

23 1/2 in. x 17 5/8 in. ( 59.7 cm x 44.8 cm )

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Lady Carysfort is a fine example of the medium of pastel and its remarkable capacity to simultaneously convey color and line. Cotes uses opaque, chalky linework to record the play of light on the various glossy and matte surfaces. The linear qualities of pastel, best seen in the enlivened rendering of the left sleeve, stand in contrast to the painterly qualities and the modulated tonalities of this same medium exemplified in the work of the French artist Maurice Quentin de La Tour. The canvas is signed and dated in the lower left "Fcotes pxt./ 1751." "Pxt" is a common abbreviation for "pinxit," the Latin term for "painted." The sitter, Lady Carysfort, was the wife of the first Lord Carysfort. Members of the British aristocracy vied for the services of the leading portraitists of the period, and Cotes was among the most popular. This portrait is part of a group of pastels executed by Cotes in 1751, four of which hang in Elton Hall in England.
(C. McNamara, 18th-19th Century Gallery installation, early 1999)

Subject matter
In 1750 the sitter for this portrait had married John Proby, who in 1752 was created 1st Baron of Carysfort. This pastel is a copy of an identical work still in the Proby collection that accompanies similar portraits of John Proby and his two younger brothers.

Physical Description
This half-length pastel portrait depicts a woman looking directly out of the portrait with her body turned slightly toward her right. She wears an elaborate diaphanous collar with lace fringes that is tied at the neck with a pink ribbon and a dress made of luxurious fabrics. While the face of the sitter is smooth and idealized, her clothing is rendered with meticulous attention to detail and texture.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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pastels (visual works)

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