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Pocahontas

Pocahontas
Artist
Unidentified Artist
Copy after
Simon van de Passe, 1595 - 1647
Sitter
Pocahontas, c. 1595 - Mar 1617
Date
after 1616
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 77.5 x 64.8 x 2.5cm (30 1/2 x 25 1/2 x 1")
Frame: 92.7 x 80 x 6.4cm (36 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 2 1/2")
Topic
Costume\Jewelry\Earring
Costume\Dress Accessory\Fan
Pocahontas: Female
Pocahontas: Native American\Cultural intermediary
Portrait
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the National Gallery of Art; gift of the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, 1942
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Object number
NPG.65.61
Exhibition Label
Born near present-day Richmond, Virginia
Matoaka, also known as Pocahontas, grew up in coastal Virginia among a confederacy of Algonquian-speaking Powhatan people overseen by her father. After John Smith and other representatives of the Virginia Company of London established a settlement at Jamestown, she promoted their peaceful relations with her people. Yet in 1613, an English sea captain kidnapped and ransomed her for corn, guns, and prisoners. While in captivity, Pocahontas was converted to Christianity, took the name Rebecca, and married the tobacco farmer John Rolfe. Their son, Thomas, was born in 1615.
Eager to publicize Pocahontas’s apparent assimilation as a means of attracting investors, the Virginia Company transported her to England, where she arrived in June 1616. This painting, based on an engraving from that time, depicts Pocahontas as an affluent Englishwoman. Inscriptions proclaim her elite lineage, Christian religion, and marital status (confusing her son’s name with her husband’s). Pocahontas took ill and died nine months after arriving in England. Over the next four hundred years, her brief life inspired tributes and legends, including a fictitious romance with John Smith.
Nacida cerca de la actual Richmond, Virginia
Matoaka, conocida como Pocahontas, creció en el área costera de Virginia entre una confederación de pueblos powhatan hablantes de algonquino, dirigida por su padre. Cuando John Smith y otros agente de la Virginia Company de Londres establecieron un asentamiento en Jamestown, ella promovió las relaciones pacíficas de estos con su pueblo. Sin embargo, en 1613, un capitán de barco inglés la secuestró, pidiendo un rescate de maíz, armas y prisioneros. En cautiverio, Pocahontas fue convertida al cristianismo, adoptó el nombre de Rebecca y se casó con el tabacalero John Rolfe. El hijo de ambos, Thomas, nació en 1615.
Deseosa de publicar la aparente asimilación de Pocahontas para atraer inversores, la Virginia Company la llevó a Inglaterra, adonde llegó en junio de 1616. Esta pintura, basada en un grabado de la época, la presenta como una inglesa adinerada. La inscripción proclama su linaje privilegiado, su religión cristiana y su estado civil (trocando el nombre de su hijo con el de su esposo). Pocahontas enfermó y murió a los nueve meses de llegar a Inglaterra. En los 400 años siguientes, su breve vida inspiró tributos y leyendas, incluido un romance ficticio con John Smith.
Provenance
Peter Elwin [1718-1798], Booton Hall, Norfolk, England; by descent to Fountain Peter Elwin in 1900; purchased by Francis Burton Harrison 1926; bought by Andrew W. Mellon 1932; transferred to The A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust; gift to NGA 1942; transferred 1965 to NPG.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition
2022 Rehang of Out of Many: Portraits from 1600 to 1900
On View
NPG, East Gallery 150a