Pocahontas

Title

Pocahontas

Description

Created by an unknown artist, this portrait depicts the Virginia Indian Pocahontas and is based on a 1616 engraving by Simon van de Passe, which is the only known image of her made from life. The caption reads:

"Matoaks als Rebecka daughter to the mighty Prince Powhatan Emperour of Attanoughkomouck als virginia converted and baptized in the Christian faith, and wife to the wor.th Mr. Tho: Rolff."

"Attanoughkomouck" refers to Tsenacomoco, a political alliance of Algonquian-speaking Indians in Tidewater Virginia. Pocahontas's father, Powhatan, was the paramount chief. In her infancy, Pocahontas was given the secret personal name Matoaka; she later adopted the Christian name Rebecca. (Both names are shown in the painting.) She later married John Rolfe and traveled with him to England, where van de Passe made his original engraving. The caption on the painting erroneously identifies her husband as "Thomas."

An iconic figure in American history, Pocahontas is largely known for saving the life of the Jamestown colonist John Smith and then romancing him—although both events are unlikely to be true.

Description courtesy of Encyclopedia Virginia.

Creator

Unknown

Date Created

After 1616

Source

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the National Gallery of Art; gift of the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, 1942

Format

Oil painting

Physical Dimension

30.5" x 25.5"

Coverage

seventeenth century