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Portrait of Lady Juliana Penn

Companion to Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2004-201-1

Arthur Devis, English, 1712 - 1787

Made in England, Europe


Oil on canvas

36 1/8 x 31 1/8 inches (91.8 x 79.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 274, European Art 1500-1850, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Gift of Susanne Strassburger Anderson, Valerie Anderson Story, and Veronica Anderson Macdonald from the estate of Mae Bourne and Ralph Beaver Strassburger, 2004

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This painting is one of a pair of marriage portraits featuring William Penn's son, Thomas, and his new wife, Lady Juliana Fermor. The bride and groom are depicted in interiors that may represent their family homes. Thomas stands near a window that is open to a landscape, perhaps hinting at the vast lands he controlled as proprietor of Pennsylvania from 1746 to 1775.

Additional information:
  • PublicationGifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    This evocative pair of marriage portraits provide an important and rare glimpse into the seldom documented British aspects of the lives of the Penn family. Painted in London around 1751–52, the paintings portray William Penn’s son Thomas and his new wife, Lady Juliana Pomfret. Following the popular traditionsof this portrait genre, the bride and groom are depicted in the interiors of their respective family homes: Lady Julia in the London townhouse of her father, the first earl of Pomfret, and Thomas in the ancestral house of his father, William, in Warminghurst, Sussex. The contrast between the ornate decorations in the interior of the bride’s portrait and the spare furnishings of the groom’s suggests some of the philosophical differences between the Anglican Pomfrets and Quaker Penns relative to the ownership of luxury goods.

    Upon William Penn’s death in 1718, Thomas inherited one-quarter of his father’s proprietary interest in the colony of Pennsylvania. His ownership increased to a full three-quarters in 1746 when his older brother, John, died. Thomas resided in Philadelphia from 1732 until 1741, when he returned to England, leaving his proprietary and financial interest in control of the family’s personal secretary, James Logan, who had also served his father. Although he never returned to Pennsylvania, Thomas Penn’s influence and authority continued to define the economic and governmental character of the colony for over forty years. Lady Juliana Penn never visited the region, but was a much-admired and dedicated supporter of many of Pennsylvania’s early cultural institutions. Her benefactions included a 1763 gift of numerous valuable books, globes, and other scientific curiosities to the Library Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which later honored her by changing its name to the Juliana Library Company. Jack L. Lindsey, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary (2002), p. 35.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.

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