Charles Willson Peale, Mrs. Tench Francis, Jr. (née Anne Willing)
One of the most important American artists of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Charles Wilson Peale helped found the first art academies in the United States and forged a uniquely American style of painting. This portrait of Anne Francis, Jr., demonstrates Peale’s ability to convey a sitter’s character with naturalism, ease, and clarity. Peale paints with great attention to detail, giving special care to the rosy hues of Mrs. Francis’ cheeks, the gauzy lace of her cap, and the embroidered shawl wrapped around her shoulders.
It is significant that the artist painted Mrs. Francis with quill pen in hand, seated next to a few sheets of paper and an open book, prominently showcasing her literacy. Such a level of education would have been rare for a woman of the time. Though not much is known about Anne Francis, this portrait shows her as a self-assured woman whose inner character is made plain on the canvas.