Mrs. John Quincy Adams

  • Charles Bird King, Mrs. John Quincy Adams, ca. 1824, oil on canvas, 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

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.

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 John Quincy Adams in the National Collection of Fine Arts, unpublished, 1969

Title
Mrs. John Quincy Adams
Artist
Date
ca. 1824
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
51 1239 58 in. (130.8100.6 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Adams-Clement Collection, gift of Mary Louisa Adams Clement in memory of her mother, Louisa Catherine Adams Clement

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • Landscape – water
  • Portrait female – Adams, John Quincy, Mrs.
  • Performing arts – music – harp
Object Number
1950.6.5
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI