The portrait we have of Mary Pocklington is the quintessential grand manner portrait that you would expect and hope for from Kaufmann. The subject is looking back in a classical stance that Kaufmann would have studied when she was in Italy. She shows Mary holding a book, representing that she is educated and well-read. She is leaning up against a classical urn, referencing back to classical antiquity as well as the great landscapes of the past in the background.
These private collectors were passionate about their collections and very intentional about what they were buying. One particular thing that I found enjoyable while cataloging these paintings is that all of these artists are interconnected in some way. Kaufmann knew Reynolds, you have Sir William Beechey
who was in the Royal Academy, John Opie
would have known Reynolds. It shows a very succinct period of time in British art – 1740 to the early 19th century, it’s a very focused collection.
I loved listening to the stories the collector would share when we were first viewing the collection. They have such fond memories of shopping for the Hogarth prints and assembling the full suites. Once they acquired a portrait, they would spend the time to hunt down the engraving of the portrait that would have been mass produced at the time of the painting to go with the portrait. It’s really something to witness, that very strong collector’s eye.