"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Juliana Westray Wood

This c. 1811 portrait of Juliana Westray Wood by Rembrandt Peale hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
"Actress Juliana Westray made her stage debut at Boston's Haymarket Theatre in 1797. By 1804 she had joined William Wood's Chestnut Street Theatre Company in Philadelphia and also married Wood. The company performed a repertoire of serious drama and literate, witty comedy, and for years she was its favored actress, best known for her performances in Macbeth and School for Scandal. Rembrandt Peale painted her portrait around 1811 when she was at the height of her career. With his respectable, highbrow tastes, William Wood found it difficult to adapt as American culture became more populist and sensationalist by the 1830s. In particular, he disliked the star system, preferring an ensemble cast. During the late 1820s, the Woods operated the theater themselves, but eventually they had to close its doors." -- National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery further remarks that:
"This portrait shows Juliana Wood in front of a stage, indicated by a curtain and ropes. David Edwin’s engraving of the portrait was published in the March 1811 issue of The Mirror of Taste, and Dramatic Censor, which featured theater reviews, the texts of plays, and essays on the history of the stage. The text called the portrait “a striking resemblance of a lady whose public talents and private virtues have raised her to a very high rank in public estimation.”
Read the description of Edwin's engraving of Peale's portrait in The Mirror of Taste, and Dramatic Censor and see the engraving by David Edwin.

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