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Dolley Madison

Object Details

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National Portrait Gallery Collection
Date
1848
Object number
NPG.74.6
Exhibition Label
Born Guilford County, North Carolina
Raised by a Quaker family in Philadelphia, Dolley Payne Todd Madison was naturally vivacious and outgoing, and she cultivated strategic friendships with both male politicians and their wives. Prior to her husband James Madison’s presidency, she served as an honorary hostess for President Thomas Jefferson, which prepared her for taking on the role when her husband entered the office. Madison’s charisma and intelligence charmed the most hardhearted politicians, making the lively Wednesday night receptions she held at the White House the epicenter of Washington society.
William Elwell, who painted this portrait of Madison toward the end of her life, described her as “a very Estimable lady—kind & obliging—one of the Old School.” He paid close attention to Madison’s slightly cloudy blue eyes and her rouged cheeks. The black curls (hairpieces) that peek out from her signature turban hint at her interest in maintaining a hard-won and long-cultivated public persona.
Nacida en Guilford County, Carolina del Norte
Dolley Payne Todd Madison creció en una familia cuáquera en Filadelfia. Vivaz y extrovertida, cultivó amistades estratégicas tanto con los políticos como con sus esposas. Antes de la presidencia de su esposo James Madison, hizo labores de anfitriona para el presidente Thomas Jefferson, lo cual la preparó para cuando su esposo asumió el cargo. Con su carisma e inteligencia cautivó a los políticos más insensibles, y sus animadas recepciones de los miércoles por la noche en la Casa Blanca se convirtieron en centro de la vida social de Washington.
William Elwell, quien pintó este retrato de Madison hacia el final de su vida, la describió como “una dama muy estimable, bondadosa y atenta, de la vieja escuela”. Elwell prestó gran atención a los ojos azules ligeramente opacos y las mejillas con colorete. Los rizos negros (postizos) que asoman por debajo de su típico turbante delatan el interés de la modelo en conservar su bien ganada, y largamente cultivada, imagen pública.
Provenance
Belle Morse Johnson, Washington, D.C.; purchased 1974 NPG
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Artist
William S. Elwell, 1810 - 12 Aug 1881
Sitter
Dolley Dandridge Payne Todd Madison, 20 May 1768 - 12 Jul 1849
Topic
Costume\Jewelry\Earring
Costume\Headgear\Hat
Dolley Dandridge Payne Todd Madison: Female
Dolley Dandridge Payne Todd Madison: Politics and Government\First Lady\First Lady of US
Dolley Dandridge Payne Todd Madison: Society and Social Change\Socialite
Portrait
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 76.8 x 64.1 x 3.2cm (30 1/4 x 25 1/4 x 1 1/4")
Frame: 90.8 x 77.5 x 8.9cm (35 3/4 x 30 1/2 x 3 1/2")
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Type
Painting
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/sm47b384206-1281-42c0-933f-3afd1d38026b
Record ID
npg_NPG.74.6

Dolley Madison

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