Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

Mrs. John Quincy Adams

ca. 1824 Charles Bird King Born: Newport, Rhode Island 1785 Died: Washington, District of Columbia 1862 oil on canvas 51 1/2 x 39 5/8 in. (130.8 x 100.6 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Adams-Clement Collection, gift of Mary Louisa Adams Clement in memory of her mother, Louisa Catherine Adams Clement 1950.6.5 Not currently on view


Luce Center Quote

“Mr. King, the painter sent me a small painting for a present which will cost me a sitting for a portrait.” Mrs. John Quincy Adams, diary entry for January 3, 1821, in Belt, The Portrait of Mrs. John Quincy Adams in the National Collection of Fine Arts, unpublished, 1969

Luce Center Label

Louisa Catherine Johnson was born in England to an American father and British mother. Her father was the first American consul in England after the Revolutionary War, and the elegant Johnson household was a gathering spot for prominent Americans passing through London. John Quincy Adams visited the Johnsons while serving as American minister to Holland. He fell in love with Louisa, and proposed to the twenty-two-year-old beauty only four months after they met. The couple married in 1797 in London. Here, Louisa is shown about thirty years later, around the time her husband took office as president. She is elegantly dressed and plays the harp, an emblem of her musical ability and refinement. The title of the music score reads “Oh! Say Not Woman’s Heart Is Bought,” and Charles Bird King, with his characteristic attention to detail, copied the lettering as it appeared on the sheet music.

Keywords

Landscape - water

Performing arts - music - harp

Portrait female - Adams, John Quincy, Mrs.

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Charles Bird King

Born: Newport, Rhode Island 1785 Died: Washington, District of Columbia 1862

More works in the collection by
Charles Bird King