What can a portrait reveal about the history of colonial British America?
Portraits were both deeply personal and yet collaborative artifacts left behind by people of the past. When historians look at multiple portraits created around the same time and place, their similarities can reveal important social connections, trade relationships, or cultural beliefs about race and gender in early American history.
Janine Yorimoto Boldt, Associate Curator of American Art at the Chazen Museum of Art and the researcher behind the digital project Colonial Virginia Portraits, leads us on an exploration of portraiture and what it can reveal about the early American past.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
Janine Yorimoto Boldt is the Associate Curator of American Art at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin as well as the researcher behind Colonial Virginia Portraits, a digital project produced by the Omohundro Institute.
During our discussion of colonial Virginian portraits, Janine reveals how historians use portraits as historical sources; Why early Americans commissioned portraits ; Who commissioned portraits; And what portraits can tell us about early American history.
What You’ll Discover
- What you can find at ColonialVirginiaPortraits.com
- How historians use portraits as a historical source
- What types of questions historians ask when studying portraits as a historical source
- What visual details historians look for when they examine portraits
- Who commissioned portraits in colonial British America
- Why early Americans commissioned portraits
- How portraits were commissioned and how much they cost
- How portraits were painted and the process of sitting for a portrait
- Differences in the experiences and opportunities to have a portrait painted between the colonies and England
- How one acquired the skills to become a portrait painter
- The significance behind Daniel Parke II’s portrait
- The mystery of the Queen Anne miniature
- The significance behind Lucy Parke Byrd’s portrait
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Janine Yorimoto Boldt
- The Story of Edward Hill and the African Groom at Shirley Plantation
- Chazen Museum of Art
- Portrait of Daniel Parke II
- Portrait of Lucy Parke Byrd
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- Episode 136: Jennifer Van Horn, Material Culture and the Making of America
- Episode 292: Glenn Adamson, Craft in Early America
Time Warp Question
In your opinion, what would have happened if everyone in early America had had the opportunity to have a portrait commissioned of themselves? How might our understanding or perception of early America be different today?
Questions, Comments, Suggestions
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