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WAM Updates are short, informal posts that put the spotlight on small, but exciting, Museum-related projects, such as the addition of a new painting or sculpture to a gallery. They also serve as updates on staff, new services or programs, and other WAM news.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Copley Portrait Reunion

An affecting reunion in the American art galleries: John Singleton Copley’s portraits of Boston-based merchant, Samuel Phillips Savage (1718–1797), and his wife, Sarah Tyler (1717/18–1764), are together at the Worcester Art Museum for the first time since 1963. Though companion paintings were often commissioned to celebrate a wedding, these portraits do not mark the beginning of the couple’s marriage, but rather commemorate its sad end. Sarah died in childbirth in February 1764, and various cues—such as her mask-like expression and rigid pose—suggest that her likeness was completed posthumously.

Copley’s portraits passed through different branches of the Savage family and have been reunited only occasionally, first at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia and, later, at the 1963 exhibition at WAM. Thanks to the generous loan of Samuel’s portrait by the Wunsch Americana Foundation, the companion paintings will be together through the spring of 2016.

View more American Art in our Collection Highlights

- Justin M. Brown, Curatorial Assistant, American Art

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