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William Morris Hunt, Mary Elizabeth Robbins (1866)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Mary Elizabeth Robbins (1886) by William Morris Hunt.

About the Work

Title : Mary Elizabeth Robbins
Artist : William Morris Hunt
Year : 1866
Medium : Oil on canvas
Dimensions : 96.5 x 72.4 cm (38 x 28 1/2 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Mary Elizabeth Robbins was the wife of the Royal Robbins, who founded the Boston Watch Company. Royal Robbins was a prominent business man in Boston.  It was common at this time for people of high society to commission portraits of themselves and their loved ones.

This work, like many others by William Hunt, had been done in a style similar to that of Jean-François Millet.

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“With its soft focus, warm golden tonalities, and partially turned figure, this work reflects the influence of the famed French painter Jean-François Millet, with whom Hunt trained in the 1850s.”

Other Details

William Morris Hunt’s Mary Elizabeth Robbins is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 2710. It is part of the museum’s collection of the North Arcade.


To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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