Catalogue No. 20
Supposed Portrait of Polly Jones

Artist: Read, Katherine (Attributed To)
Supposed Portrait of Polly Jones

Pastel on grey paper 28¾ x 23 ins

Collection Details
R H Allan; William Allan; A Denham; with Sabin Gallery, from whom bought by the Faringdon Trustees, 1970 (as by Cotes).

Edward Mead Johnson, Francis Cotes, 1976, pp. 95, 168, No. 43 (rejecting the old attribution to Cotes, and proposing Katherine Read instead).

The old identification of the sitter and the following description are taken from the catalogue of an exhibition held at the Sabin Gallery in 1970:


Miss Kennedy, alias Jones, was of Irish family and had two brothers, Mathew and Patrick.  These brothers rose to higher status than their original profession of alehouse waiters through the influence of their sister Polly, who was an intimate acquaintance of Sir Charles Bunbury, the St Johns, Lord March, Lord Robert Spencer, Gilly Williams, Lord Palmerston and George Selwyn among others.

The Kennedy brothers took part in a drunken riot in Westminster, which caused the death of a night-watchman.  Both men were convicted of murder and sentenced to be executed; but through the intervention of Miss Jones’ “friends”, the King had the sentence commuted to “transported for life”.  Complications ensued, which developed into a struggle between the Bill of Rights Club members who wished to hang the Kennedys, and the Court acquaintances of Polly Jones.  Another trial occurred with many fierce accusations and entanglements.  This ended with the watchman’s widow being bribed not to appear; Mathew was transported for life, and Patrick transported for 14 years.’


Cotes exhibited a pastel head of Polly Jones at the Society of Artists in 1768, but it has not been recorded since his posthumous sale.