This article concerns the relationship between Lily's Bart's personation of Sir Joshua Reynolds's Mrs. Lloyd in the famous tableau vivant in The House of Mirth and Edith Wharton's kinship, particularly that with her sister-in-law Mary Cadwalader Jones. Joanna Lloyd (née Leigh) married Richard Bennett Lloyd, a major Maryland slaveholder, in London in 1775. Richard Bennett Lloyd's family had a direct kin relationship with Mary Cadwalader Jones. In her memoirs Jones ignores this fact. It is suggested that Edith Wharton knew of this relationship and that it gave her the idea of contrasting the socially and financially secure Mrs. Lloyd with the insecure and doomed Lily Bart. In this article I explore a new historical context for Reynolds's painting in relation to the antebellum elite.

You do not currently have access to this content.