Sarah Badger Noyes (1747-1788) by Joseph Badger, ca. 1760-1765
This engaging portrait is a combination of close observation and stylized artistic conventions. Sarah Badger Noyes’ distinctive facial features and expression, as well as the attention paid to her lace collar and sleeves, testify to the artist’s careful study of the model and her clothing. The stylized flower tucked into Noyes’ collar and the fruit she holds, however, are most likely props taken from European mezzotint engravings, carrying generic meanings of youth and fertility. Since its discovery, this portrait has been attributed to different artists. Based on the identity of the sitter, as well as the technique, it has most recently been attributed to Noyes’ cousin Joseph Badger, a Massachusetts portraitist popular in Boston between the death of John Smibert and the advent of John Singleton Copley.
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