Ann Langdon, Mrs. Richard Ayscough by John Wollaston (British, active in America, 1710 – 1775), ca. 1755
The daughter of a captain in the French and Indian Wars, Ann Langdon married Dr. Richard Ayscough, a New York surgeon, in 1755, the probable date of this portrait. Besides the characteristic attention paid to Ann Langdon’s fashionable dress, her sweetly placid expression and slanted, almond-shaped eyes are also typical devices of the artist, who accentuated his American subjects’ features to conform to London standards of fashion. The basket of flowers Mrs. Ayscough carries is a standard prop that alludes to women’s beauty and fertility, while the feathery park setting in the background exemplifies the same type of handling Thomas Gainsborough would make famous in England a decade later.
Born in England, John Wollaston’s career in the colonies was wide-ranging. Between 1749 and 1767, he painted over 300 portraits during successful residencies in New York, Philadelphia, Maryland, Virginia, the British West Indies, and Charleston. Known in particular for his facility with rendering materials, Wollaston pleased an appreciative American audience hungry for high-style goods that emulated those of the motherland.
source: Dallas Museum of Art