National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Charles H. Wood Conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
Lydia Henchman Hancock 1714–1777
Born Boston, Massachusetts
Thomas Hancock 1703–1764
Born Lexington, Massachusetts
John Singleton Copley painted these pillars of Boston society, aunt and uncle to the patriot John Hancock, near the beginning of his career. Copley trained himself in making paintings “in littel,” as oil-on-copper miniatures were then known; the more fashionable European technique of using watercolor on ivory was not yet well established in the colonies. Copley painted Thomas Hancock first, around 1758. After his death, Hancock’s widow had her portrait done in miniature by Copley. The artist then set his original miniature into a larger, oval piece of copper to match her portrait so that they could be displayed as framed pendants.