John Smibert

American, 1688–1751

Portrait of Sarah Belcher Lyde (1708–1768), c. 1735–43
Oil on canvas, 36 x 28 in.

Gift of Danielle and Michael Barger in memory of Gisele and Harold Jaffe, M.2014.18

The portrait by John Smibert is the first acquisition by curator Kevin Murphy. It joins other colonial works as the earliest portrait in WCMA’s American collection.

Smibert was a portrait painter academically trained in London, where he painted portraits of merchants, professionals and minor aristocrats. In 1728, he settled in Boston. The New England elite recognized Smibert as the only European trained portrait painter living in the colonies, and he became well in demand for his services.

WCMA’s other portraits from the colonial period are overwhelmingly of men. The acquisition of Smibert’s Sarah Lyde will enhance student engagement with modes of gendered visual representation and the roles of women in the Atlantic littoral during the eighteenth century.