Jane Pratt Taylor (Mrs. Thomas Taylor)

Artist: Enoch Seeman
Date: 1734

Jane Pratt Taylor was the widow of Thomas Taylor, brother of Maria Taylor Byrd, the second wife of William Byrd II of Westover. She lived in England and maintained correspondence with the Byrd family. This portrait descended in the Byrd family.

References: “We often discourse you in effigie, and call the painter a bungler for falling so short of the original. I hope you are not grown so thin as he has made you, because a lady can’t loose her enbonpoint, without haveing some of her health go along with it.” – William Byrd II to Jane Pratt Taylor, 10 October 1735

A portrait of “Mrs. Taylor,” one of Byrd II’s “particular friends and favorites,” was left to Richard Willing Byrd in the will of Mary Willing Byrd

Dimensions: 50 x 40 in. (127 x 101.6 cm.)

The subject wears a red dress with jewels on the bodice and trim around the waist and skirt over a white underskirt. The sleeves are layered white ruffles. She also wears an elaborate jeweled hairpiece. Her right hand gestures outwards while her left hand pulls back her red skirt. A gold curtain is behind her on the right side of the painting and a view of a landscape is visible on the left side of the painting. The portrait is signed and dated.

See: Mary Willing Byrd, “The Will of Mrs. Mary Willing Byrd, of Westover, 1813, with a List of the Westover Portraits,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 6, no. 4 (April 1899): 345-358; David Meschutt, “William Byrd and His Portrait Collection,” MESDA Journal 14, no. 1 (May 1988): 18-47; Marion Tinling, ed., Correspondence of the Three William Byrds of Westover, 1684-1776 (1977), 462.

Decade: 1730s
Credits: Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 1987.37.