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Frances Meadowcroft Hodgkinson (Mrs. Asa Worthington II)

Object Name: Portrait
Date: 1813
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Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Framed: 35 × 30 1/4 in. (88.9 × 76.8 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Thomas N. Rae
Object Number: 2013.38
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The subject of this elegant half-length portrait, known by her descendants as Mrs. Asa Worthington II, was born Frances Meadowcroft Hodgkinson on June 16, 1793, the daughter of John Hodgkinson and Frances Brett. The couple emigrated from England a year before their daughter’s birth. John Hodgkinson established himself as a gifted and popular stage actor and singer in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. Though he had been baptized Cecil Edgar Meadowcroft, he chose to take his mother’s surname, Hodgkinson, to escape his identity as an apprentice in the silk trade. He would become, for a time in the late 1790s, an associate of the painter of this portrait, William Dunlap. Dunlap himself had been a dominant figure in the New York theater scene and was then owner-manager of the Park Theater in New York. After Dunlap ended his business affiliation with Hodgkinson, he devoted himself to playwriting and painting, the latter which he had studied in England under the aegis of Benjamin West.

The inscription in the lower left corner of the picture, “W D 1813,” attests to the identity of William Dunlap as the artist, in addition to the fact of his previous relationship with the sitter’s actor father. Frances—who herself had been on the stage along with her sister, Rosina –would have been about twenty years of age when she sat for her portrait. It was two years later, in 1815, that she married Asa Worthington II; notices documenting their union were in the New York newspapers. This portrait, similar to others painted by the artist, reveals Dunlap’s great attention to the attire of his subject, here to the delicate lace of Frances’s collar and sleeves, and underscores the serene beauty of the young woman who would soon become Mrs. Asa Worthington II.


The portrait remained in the possession of descendants of the subject’s family until it was donated to the New-York Historical Society under the terms of the will of its last owner, Thomas N. Rae, the great-great grandson of Frances and Asa Worthington II. Dunlap’s portrait, Mrs. Asa Worthington II, formally entered the collection of the New-York Historical Society in 2013, two hundred years after its creation.