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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Painting: 18th century: Polly Ouldfield of Winyah
Polly Ouldfield of Winyah

Polly Ouldfield of Winyah
about 1761
Jeremiah Theüs
oil on canvas
30 1/8 x 25 1/8 in. (76.5 x 63.8 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of International Business Machines Corporation

Polly Ouldfield was born into a life of privilege. Her father was a member of the Commons House of Assembly in London, and records indicate that he owned land in Georgetown in 1752. Polly's husband was a landowner from Charleston, South Carolina, who served as Commissary of Militia in the Georgetown District during the Revolutionary War. (Middleton, Jeremiah Theüs: Colonial Artist of Charles Town, 1953) In this portrait the landscape beyond the window suggests the Ouldfields' significant landholdings, and Polly's luminous, lace-trimmed silk dress embellished with decorative pearls also conveys the richness of planter society. Jeremiah Theüs often showed his subjects lit from above, as in this portrait.

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