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Portrait of George Washington.  Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1780. Oil on canvas. OH: 96 1/4”; OW: 61 3/4.”

Portrait of George Washington. Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1780. Oil on canvas. OH: 96 1/4”; OW: 61 3/4.”

Gift of John D. Rockefeller, Jr

Paintings and Drawings

Portrait of Rosa Heywood. Attributed to Robert Peckham (1785-1877), Massachusetts, ca. 1840. Oil on canvas. OH: 44 ¼”; OW: 29 1/4.”

Portrait of Rosa Heywood. Attributed to Robert Peckham (1785-1877), Massachusetts, ca. 1840. Oil on canvas. OH: 44 ¼”; OW: 29 1/4.”

Museum Purchase

The Old Plantation. Attributed to John Rose (1752/1753-1820), Beaufort County, South Carolina, 1785-1790. Watercolor on laid paper. OH: 11 11/16"; OW: 17 7/8."

The Old Plantation. Attributed to John Rose (1752/1753-1820), Beaufort County, South Carolina, 1785-1790. Watercolor on laid paper. OH: 11 11/16"; OW: 17 7/8."

Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller

Miniature portrait of James Gignilliat. Attributed to Henry Benbridge (1743-1812), Charleston, South Carolina, ca. 1775. Watercolor on ivory. OH: 1 ¼”; OW: 1.”

Miniature portrait of James Gignilliat. Attributed to Henry Benbridge (1743-1812), Charleston, South Carolina, ca. 1775. Watercolor on ivory. OH: 1 ¼”; OW: 1.”

Gift of John L. and William W. Gignilliat

Portraits form a majority of Colonial Williamsburg’s collection of paintings and drawings, but many other types of pictures are represented, too: landscapes, depictions of cities and towns, genre scenes, still life compositions, marine views, mourning pictures, student art, flora and fauna, fraktur, calligraphic drawings, parade banners, overmantel paintings, and fireboards. In addition, the broadly applied portrait category can include images of particular animals, buildings, and maritime vessels.

Most of the Foundation’s pictures are carefully crafted works in relatively durable materials, but simple sketches are also treasured, even those that, originally, were not intended to be saved, for they sometimes illustrate the creative process more clearly than highly finished works. Beyond aesthetics, the Foundation’s paintings and drawings act as visual historical documents and inform choices and decisions in many other areas of curatorial responsibility, for they illustrate how earlier people lived. For instance, a painting of a tea party may reveal not only how people consumed the beverage and what utensils they used for that purpose but also what they wore, how they styled their hair, how their residence was constructed and furnished, how employers and servants interacted, and much more.

Paintings and drawings created in Virginia are of special interest, while pictures made in, or known to have been used in, the Williamsburg area in the 18th century are critical to efforts to furnish buildings in the town’s Historic Area. The geographic range of the collection is much broader, however. It includes some (mostly British) European works, with heavier representation from the 13 original American colonies and, in some cases, beyond. The academic collection (chronologically capped at about 1830) is strongest in American portraiture from the second half of the 18th century. The folk art collection (with no terminal date) possesses particular depth in New England and New York state portraiture, mourning pictures, and theorem paintings.

Books about Colonial Williamsburg Paintings and Drawings

  • Carolyn J. Weekley, Painters and Paintings in the Early American South (Williamsburg, VA: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, in association with Yale University Press, 2013).
  • Carolyn J. Weekley, The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks (Williamsburg, Va.: Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center in association with Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999).
  • Beatrix T. Rumford, ed., American Folk Paintings: Paintings and Drawings Other Than Portraits from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center (Boston: New York Graphic Society in association with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1988).
  • Beatrix T. Rumford, ed., American Folk Portraits: Paintings and Drawings from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center (Boston: New York Graphic Society in association with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1981).
  • Graham Hood, Charles Bridges and William Dering: Two Virginia Painters, 1735-1750 (Williamsburg, Va.: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1978).
  • Painters and Paintings in the Early American South

    This book gathers into one volume a large body of materials related to the paintings and the artists of the American South between 1564 and 1790.

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    By Carolyn J. Weekley

    This book by the Juli Grainger Curator at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation gathers into one volume a large body of materials related to the paintings and the artists of the American South between 1564 and 1790. It includes not only portraits -- the predominant genre during much of the period -- but also seascapes, landscapes and pictures made by explorers and naturalists who came to the region. Although some of the material has appeared in older monographic studies of artists, new research has turned up important material in diaries, client letters, newspapers and other sources. The integration of new with older material provides the first comprehensive and cohesive view of the subject.

    Hardcover
    9-3/4" x 11-1/4" ,
    448 pages,
    339 color illustrations, 22 black and white illustrations,
    978-0-300-19076-2,
    $75.00

  • The Old Plantation: The Artist Revealed

    A centerpiece of Colonial Williamsburg's folk art collection since the 1930's, The Old Plantation has long intrigued art enthusiasts, historians, and the general public.

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    By Susan P. Shames

    A centerpiece of Colonial Williamsburg's folk art collection since the 1930's, The Old Plantation has long intrigued art enthusiasts, historians, and the general public. This eighteenth-century watercolor, which has been widely reproduced in textbooks and scholarly publications, has been a valuable tool for those studying slave life, music, dance, and society, as well as those interested in the genesis of folk art in America. Though extensively analyzed and interpreted, The Old Plantation has remained a mystery.

    Until Now... This fascinating publication unlocks one of the great mysteries of American decorative arts, revealing not only the career of the painter, but the lives of the unnamed slaves in the images as well.

    Unravels the mystery of who painted The Old Plantation 11" x 8 1/2" 80 pages Hardcover with color photos $24.95



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