Thomas Sully painted at least 13 portraits of Fanny Kemble, an English actress who first appeared on the American stage in 1832. After marrying Pierce Butler of Philadelphia, she retired from the stage, returning in 1847, shortly before their divorce. The DAR Museum’s 1832 painting is one of Sully’s earliest of Kemble.
Born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1783, Sully and his family immigrated to Richmond, Va., in 1792. He became a professional painter at age 18, studying under Gilbert Stuart and Benjamin West before becoming a famous portrait artist in his own right. His subjects included John Quincy Adams, Marquis de Lafayette, Queen Victoria, Thomas Jefferson and other famous Americans of the time. He died in Philadelphia in 1872. His book, Hints to Young Painters, was published posthumously.
American Spirit, Volume 141, Number 4, July/August 2007, Page 11
Photo by Mark Gulezian/QuickSilver