Oil on canvas
Inscribed on the back twice – once on each of the long stretcher pieces:
"Margaret Paynter daughter and heir of John Pender of Penzance, wife of Francis Paynter of Trekenning, St Columb Cornwall Painted by John Opie P.R.A. Died.. (indistinct)"
This portrait was discovered in a frame whose gold had been painted black, in token of mourning.
Opie was Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy but this would not have been shown as PRA. The correct form would be RA.
There is a possible confusion as to the identity of the sitter. This looks as though painted before Opie went to London at the end of 1780, when Margaret Paynter was in her prime. She was to live to 1818 and continue to bear children well after 1780. She was a Margaret Pender who married a Paynter.
There were two branches of the Paynter family. One was at St Columb while the other was at Boskenna, St Buryan, near Penzance.
One of the Boskenna family was a MARGARET PAYNTER born in 1723. She married John Pender of Budock Vean on the Helford River(now a celebrated hotel).
She was thus a Maragret Paynter who married a Pender- and was in her late fifties when Opie probably painted this portrait.
It seems logical that this is in fact a portrait of MARGARET PENDER, daughter of Francis Paynter the Solicitor and aunt of the the lady named on the stretcher.
Her brother married Mary Gully and lived at Boskenna. When Opie visited west Cornwall in c.1799 he visited Boskenna and painted Mary Paynter (nee Gully). It is tempting to assume that Mary had her sister- in-law, also now widowed, living with the family at Boskenna also.