Description: The records for Edith Gregor Halpert’s Downtown Gallery identify these portraits as Dr. and Mrs. Collins of Sheffield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Little more is known about the subjects pending further research. Dr. Collins holds a book on his lap and three medical texts rest in a stack on the table beside him, including volumes I and II of “Wood’s Practice of Medicine” (Treatise on the Practice of Medicine) first published in 1849. George Bacon Wood (1797–1879) was an eminent Philadelphia physician, scientist, researcher, and professor. He endowed the Peter Hahn ward of the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and was president of the College of Physicians. He was also a respected author and his influential Treatise went into a number of reprints.
Mrs. Collin’s portrait displays a particularly beautiful handling of her lace collar, blouse, and cuffs. The thick impasto of gold paint in the pin and earrings lend a dimensional quality to the portrait. The pair of portraits evinces the sculptural quality associated with the later periods of Phillips’s oeuvre, with heavy transparent shading along the length of the nose and slightly ovoid shape of the heads. The museum presently holds three portraits from Phillips’s Kent period 1829–1838, one portrait from the 1820s, and a group portrait of three Carter children dating to 1860. These two portraits derive from a period not yet represented in the collection, nor are there many named sitters in the museum’s holdings. Additionally, the presence of the medical text is an important and desirable feature.