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Mrs. Billington as Saint Cecilia, after Joshua Reynolds
68 cm x 40.8 cm (26 3/4 in. x 16 1/16 in.)
(London, 1769 - 1859, Chestnut (Hertfordshire))
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
Elizabeth Billington was a British opera singer famed for her vocal range as well as scandalous private life. Reynolds’s celebrated portrait (today in the Tate Gallery, London) renders her as Cecilia, the patron saint of music. The composer Haydn is said to have told Reynolds, “What have you done? You have made her listening to the angels. You should have represented the angels listening to her.”