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Portrait of "Miss Lydia Irons"

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Portrait of "Miss Lydia Irons"

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1769

James Claypoole, Jr. (c. 1743-1822)

29 3/4 in x 24 3/4 in Oil on canvas

Gift of H. Rodney Sharp

1958.3302

“Miss Lydia Irons / Ætatis Suae [“at the age of”] 17 / JC [superim-posed] Pinxt. [“painted”] 1769” painted on back of canvas, now covered by relining and known by a pre-restoration photograph attached to the back of the painting.

The painting was restored in 1958, which included relining and a new stretcher.

Ex colls. Mrs. Joshua (Stella P.) Clayton, H. Rodney Sharp.

At age 17, Lydia Irons (1752–1798) had her portrait painted, signed, and dated by James Claypoole Jr. of Philadelphia. She is shown in a fashionable silk dress with lace cuffs and trim and a pink rose sprig attached to her stomacher. She wears a pearl choker, large earrings, and pearl strands and flowers woven into her hair. She holds a book carefully positioned to show its spine: Sermons to Young Women, written in 1766 by the Rev. James Fordyce, a Scotch Presbyterian cleric.  The book instructed young women to be dutiful, submissive, modest (in all respects), supportive of their husbands, and so forth.  The book signaled what kind of wife Lydia would make. The rose embellished that profile.  Lydia became Mrs. Eleazer McComb about five years later.  Both she and her husband succumbed to yellow fever in 1798, leaving three children.  See also the portrait of Eleazer McComb (acc. no. 1958.3222).

Portraits in Delaware: 1700–1850 (Wilmington, Del.: National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Delaware, 1951), 59.