Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pocahontas Portrait

Painting of Pocahontas, after a Dutch engraving, National Portrait Gallery. Known by many names, this Native American woman supposedly saved the life of English colonist John Smith; she later converted to Christianity and moved to England, assuming the name Rebecca Rolfe. The inscription states this is how she appeared at age 21 in the year 1616, and the Latin inscription around the border reads "MATOAKA ALS REBECCA FILIA POTENTISS. PRINC. POWHATANI IMP. VIRGINIAE ("Matoaka, alias Rebecca, daughter of the most powerful prince of the Powhatan Empire of Virginia"). 

To find out more about Pocahontas and this painting, see this US Senate website. For more on the original 1616 engraving upon which this painting is based, see this Smithsonian site. For more on Pocahontas and her perception on both sides of the Atlantic, see here.

For more about iconic Native Americans with multiple names, see here and here.

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