Silhouette of Martha Washington

  • Unidentified, Silhouette of Martha Washington, 19th century, watercolor on ivory, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer, 1999.27.82

Luce Center Label

Martha Dandridge was born on a plantation near Williamsburg in 1731. At the age of eighteen, she married a rich Virginia landowner, Daniel Parke Custis. He died eight years later, however, leaving Martha one of the wealthiest women in Virginia. She became the “first of First Ladies” in 1759 with her marriage to George Washington, and together they traveled between the early capitals of New York and Philadelphia. Martha was known for her hospitality and once commented that she was “fond of only what comes from the heart.” This miniature is unusual because the artist added color over the top of a black silhouette, and spent less time capturing Martha’s features than he did painting her elaborate costume.

Silhouette of Martha Washington
19th century
Not on view
image: 3 1/8 x 2 3/8 in. (8.0 x 6.0 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer

Mediums Description
watercolor on ivory
  • Portrait female – Washington, Martha – profile
  • Dress – accessory – hat
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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