By family tradition, this pair of portraits depict Kensey Johns II (b. 1721/22-1763) and Susannah Galloway (b. ca. 1728, daughter of Richard Galloway of London and Maryland), both of Calvert County, Maryland. Kensey Johns II was reputedly the high-sheriff of Anne Arundel County, and Susanna was a member of the prominent Quaker community that centered around Annapolis. These portraits were likely painted in the years soon after the couple's marriage in 1749. Depicted in the background behind Mr. Johns is a well-detailed house, likely that of the new couple. If indeed the house is that of Kensey and Susannah, it is among the earliest depictions of Maryland architecture. Although it is not known whether the couple ever travelled to England, where they (or Susannah's father) could have commissioned these portraits, the highly skilled artist was probably London trained.
A number of accomplished artists were painting in Maryland during these years, and several of Susannah Galloway's relations were painted in Maryland or Philadelphia in the 1750s by John Hesselius, James Claypoole, Jr., and John Wollaston. Jane Galloway (1745-1801), also of Anne Arundel County, was painted by Benjamin West circa 1757 (Historical Society of Pennsylvania). Her portrait joined those of Samuel Galloway III and his wife, Anne Chee, painted by John Wollaston in Maryland in the early 1750s. These paintings hang in Tulip Hill, a house on the West River built by her step-brother Samuel Galloway in 1756-1760
In addition, Mrs. Richard Galloway II was painted by John Hesselius in 1764 after he moved to Maryland. Anne Galloway (1750-1748) of New River, Maryland, who married Joseph Pemberton in 1767, was painted by James Claypoole, Jr. (See Saunders and Miles, American Colonial Portraits: 1700-1776 [Washington, D.C., 1987] pp. 196-197.) It is Wollaston who is most closely recalled by these portraits. Although he is not known to have painted watercolors, these portraits closely recall his known paintings from this period, and he was working in Maryland in 1753-1754. In either case, the portraits are an exceptionally rare survival of identifiable, mid-18th century Maryland sitters.