called William Fitzhugh or William Nelson (1754-1813)

Date: probably 1765-1771

This portrait descended with a number of Byrd and Harrison family portraits. It was acquired by the Virginia Historical Society in 2008 along with other portraits mentioned in the will of Mary Willing Byrd. It was identified as William Fitzhugh. The origin of the sitter identification is unknown. Byrd and Harrison family members did marry into the Fitzhugh family. It is also possible that this portrait actually represents William Nelson. The 1813 will of Mary Willing Byrd mentions that a portrait of William Nelson (1754-1813) was at Westover and she left it to Nelson’s daughter, Mary Willing Nelson. William Nelson was married to Abigail Byrd.

Possible reference: “I give and bequeath to my G. daughter Mary Willing Nelson…and the picture of her papa.” – 1813 Will of Mary Willing Byrd

Dimensions: 27 x 23 in. (70.87 x 23 cm.)

The portrait represents a young man wearing a blue jacket with silver trim and buttons over a white or silver waistcoat. His right hand is tucked into his waistcoat and his left hand is on his hip. He is angled towards his right.

See: “The Will of Mrs. Mary Willing Byrd, of Westover, 1813, with a List of the Westover Portraits,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 6, no. 4 (April 1899): 345–58.

Decade: 1760s1770s
Credits: Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 2008.103.1.