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Portrait of Mrs William Patersonc 1799

by Unknown artist

At the age of 19, Elizabeth married 34-year-old soldier Captain William Paterson in 1789. Two years later she accompanied him to New South Wales. Because of Paterson’s ill-health they went back to England in 1796, before returning to Sydney in 1799. Before leaving London, they commissioned a pair of portraits from fashionable portrait painter William Owen.

This portrait, and its companion of William Paterson are probably later versions of those. This portrait of Elizabeth, dressed for an evening at home and wearing a diamond-set bandeau, is very different to the youthful spirit of hers in the original pair (now in the Art Gallery of NSW),  and may have been painted a decade later, after William’s death in 1810 and her return to England.