James Watson after Sir Joshua Reynolds
[Mrs Hale as Euphrosyne in L'Allegro]
15 x 24½ inches
This beguiling portrait depicts Mary, the second daughter of William Chaloner who married Colonel John Hale in 1763 with whom she bore 21 children.
She is depicted in flowing white robes as one of the Three Graces, Euphrosyne (Good Cheer) and in Watson's mezzotint she is named L'Allegro alluding to Milton. She is attended by children and various musicians playing the triangle, cymbals and flute. The original oil painting was commissioned by Colonel Hale's cousin Edward Lascelle and was intended to decorate the new music room at Harewood House in Yorkshire.
James Watson was born in Ireland in 1740 and died in London at the age of 50 in 1790. He was a perfectionist and had a reputation for scrapping plates that did not meet his high standards, choosing to start again rather than rework or alter a plate, as less scrupulous artists would have done. He was, therefore, a perfect choice for Sir Joshua Reynolds whose own standards were so exacting. He gained a reputation for the finest work and was consequently in constant employment; his output was prolific and his portraits include many of the leading figures of the day