An Irish Emigrant

Taking advantage in a respite of hostilities between Britain and France thanks to the Peace of Amiens, in September 1802 a Cork Quaker merchant called Cooper Penrose travelled to Paris where he sat for Jacques-Louis David. The artist had written beforehand, ‘Mr Penrose can have complete trust in me, I will paint his portrait for him for two hundred gold louis. I will represent him in a manner worthy of both of us. This picture will be a monument that will testify to Ireland the virtues of a good father and the talents of the painter who will have rendered them…’ Penrose subsequently brought the picture back to his native city where until around 1947 it hung in the family house, Woodhill (since demolished). Turning up with Wildenstein & Co. in New York in 1953, it was acquired by the Putnam Foundation and is now one of the glories of the Timken Museum of Art, San Diego, California. Another emigrant destined never to return to these shores…

9 comments on “An Irish Emigrant

  1. Zick, Steven says:

    Almost forgot: I saw Rosie O’Neill and she’d like to take you to lunch next week-do you have her contact info? Cheers and see you soon-

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Finola says:

    Despite all David’s assurances, there is a skeptical gleam in Penrose’s eye. Unjustified, as it turned out.

  3. Lawrie Weed says:

    Interesting position of the sitter – so much background on top and cut off legs at the bottom. Wonderful face.

  4. How interesting, an Irish subject painted by David!

  5. So sad to think that Cork will never see that picture again. I hope that such a picture wouldn’t be allowed to leave the country now.

  6. Sondra McDonald says:

    I don’t see the hint of the skeptic in Penrose’s eyes; rather, I see the very open, trusting, and vulnerable eyes of a young boy. This is such a lovely painting, so peaceful

  7. Mark W says:

    See the March 31 weekend edition of the Financial Times, the article on actor Sam Neill, which features a copy of this same painting. Penrose is an ancestor of Neill.

  8. claudius1889 says:

    Very nice portrait by a great painter. Whereas David is mainly remembered as Napoleon’s official artist and the author of “The Coronation of Napoleon and Josephine” and “Napoleon presenting the eagles to the army”; it should be noticed that he was also a very good portrait painter. I visited the Timken Museum of Art’s website hoping to find more information about the painting but they were not good as you.

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