Hannah Vaughan

Francis Cotes (English, 1726–1770)


127.6 x 101.9 cm (50 1/4 x 40 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Britain, 1750-1800 / Portraits (Gallery 141)





Cotes painted paired portraits of Benjamin Vaughan, a London scribe and ship insurer, and Hannah Halfhide thirty-two years after their marriage. He sits holding a large tome, marked “Ledger,” on his splayed legs—a reminder that he was a practical man of business. Hannah appears wistful and lost in thought. Cotes lavished enormous attention on the materials of her beautiful costume. The artist’s bright palette of intense greens, pinks, and creamy whites owes a great deal to his early training with the colored chalks called pastels.


Center left: F Cotes px [...] 1766. (Fand C joined)


1766, Benjamin Vaughan (b. 1713 - d. 1786), and Hannah Halfhide Vaughan (b. 1707 - d. 1787), Great Parndon, Sussex, England (original commission) [see note 1]; by descent within the family; 1900/05, sold by a member of the Vaughan family, England, to Benjamin Vaughan (b. 1837 - d. 1912), Cambridge, MA [see note 2]; by descent to his daughter, Bertha H. Vaughan (b. 1866 - d. 1948), Cambridge, MA; 1948, by inheritance to Samuel Vaughan, Boston, and Mrs. Mary Vaughan Marvin, New York; 1948, gift of Samuel Vaughan and Mary Vaughan Marvin to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 11, 1948) NOTES: [1] The sitter, Hannah Halfhide, married Benjamin Vaughan, a scrivener and ship broker of Ballyhoe, Tipperary, England, in 1736. His portrait, also by Francis Cotes, came to the MFA along with his wife's. Both are buried in Great Pardon, Essex, England, according to the family's Bible and documents. [2] The name of the descendant who sold the paintings to Benjamin Vaughan was "Hyne-Hancock" or "Vaughan-Arbuckle" from the English line of the family. The donors are direct descendents of the sitter's brother, Samuel Vaughan, according to their letter to the MFA.

Credit Line

Gift of Samuel Vaughan and Mary Vaughan Marvin