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Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton

Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin, 12 Mar 1770 - 23 Jun 1852
Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, 28 Aug 1774 - 4 Jan 1821
Engraving on paper
Image: 5.6 x 5.6 cm (2 3/16 x 2 3/16")
Sheet: 54.5 × 39.8 cm (21 7/16 × 15 11/16")
Mat: 71.1 x 55.9 cm (28 x 22")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born New York City
Elizabeth Seton, the founder of the American Sisters of Charity, was the country’s first native-born Roman Catholic saint. Married with five children, she was widowed at an early age. After converting to Catholicism, she formed a sisterhood and began opening a series of schools and orphanages. Seton was elected as the first Mother Superior of the Sisters of Charity, which was established in 1809 in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Devoted to her family and friends, Seton sent copies of this small portrait by French émigré artist Saint-Mémin to loved ones, noting that the engravings portrayed “not the lively animated Betsy Bayley, but the softened matron with traces of care and anxiety upon her brow.” Seton’s enduring legacy included numerous communities of the Sisters of Charity, a mission of education and social work, and prolific writings. She was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1963 and canonized in 1975.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection