Governor Spotwoods Grandchildren (United States, 1790s)



Figure 1.--This portrait by an unknown American artist shows two children with the younger boy's black nurse. All we know about the artist is that he worked in Virginia. The Museum where the painting is archived estimates that it depicts the Governor Spotswood grandchildren and was painted in the 1790s.

A portrait by an unknown artist shows two children with the younger boy's black nurse. All we know about the artist is that he worked in Virginia. American artists at the time generally worked in generally restricted areas, so this is useful in attempting to identify artists as is the date of the work. We have been able to find little information about the individuals depicted. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond identified the children as the "grandchildren of Virginia's Governor Spotswood", but the children are not named. The Museum dates the painting to the 1790s. Alexander Spotswood was a Lt. Governor (17141722), but because the governor was an absentee official, he acted more like the govenor. He played an important role in Virginia colonial history and is especially remembered for ending the rapacious attacks of the notorious pirate, Blackbeard (1718). He had four children. Given the children's age, they are mostly likely the childten of Anne Catherine Spotswood (1728-c1802) and Col. Bernard Moore, Esq., of Chelsea, King William Co., Virginia. He was related to Sir Thomas More, of Chelsea, England, the author of Utopia and executed by King Henry VIII. Descendents include Genetral Robert E. Lee and Helen Keller. Ann Catherines siblings became involved with George Washington and Patrick Henry. The term 'nurse' for the young women seems to describe the young woman's assignment, but not her status. In Virginia at the time she almost certainly would have been a slave. She is barefoot, but better dressed than most slaves would have been at the time, presumably because she was a household slave. The older boy is coming from hunting with a bow and arrow. Note he is wearing a suit even though he was hunting. As was still common at the time the suit has knee breeches. The little boy is wearing only a shirt or perhaps a night shirt. The sky suggests that it is morning or evening. The portrait is in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.

Anonamous Artist

A portrait by an unknown artist shows two children with the younger boy's black nurse. All we know about the artist is that he worked in Virginia. American artists at the time generally worked in generally restricted areas, so this is useful in attempting to identify artists as is the date of the work. Which according to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was the 1790s.

Spotswood Family

We have been able to find little information about the individuals depicted. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond identified the children as the "grandchildren of Virginia's Governor Spotswood", but the children are not named. The Museum dates the painting to the 1790s. Alexander Spotswood was a Lt. Governor (17141722), but because the governor was an absentee official, he acted more like the govenor. He played an important role in Virginia colonial history and is especially remembered for ending the rapacious attacks of the notorious pirate, Blackbeard (1718). He had four children. Given the children's age, they are mostly likely the childten of Anne Catherine Spotswood (1728-c1802) and Col. Bernard Moore, Esq., of Chelsea, King William Co., Virginia. He was related to Sir Thomas More, of Chelsea, England, the author of Utopia and executed by King Henry VIII. Descendents include Genetral Robert E. Lee and Helen Keller. Ann Catherines siblings became involved with George Washington and Patrick Henry.

Slavery

The term 'nurse' for the young woman seems to describe the young woman's assifnment, but not her status. In Virginia at the time she almost certainly would have been a slave. She is barefoot, but better dressed than most slaves would have been at the time, presumably because she was a household slave. Note the necklace.

Clothing

The older boy is coming from hunting with a bow and arrow. The boy looks to be about 12 years old. Note he is wearing a suit even though he was hunting. As was still common at the time the suit has knee breeches. Note the bright colors depicted. Tge suit is a kind of orange-tan and the vest is bright red. This was probably the vboy's best suit, rather than the suit he would have worn to go hunting. We are guessing his parents would have chosen a good suit rather than something more in keeping withb the scene depicted. We are not sure what he would have worn for outdoor pursuits. The little boy who looks to be about 5 years old is wearing only a shirt or perhaps a night shirt. The sky suggests that it is morning or evening. The portrait is in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.








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Created: 8:43 PM 5/26/2011
Last updated: 8:44 PM 5/26/2011