Lucy Parke Byrd (Mrs. William Byrd II, 1685-1716)

Artist: Unknown
Date: 1716

This portrait was occasionally attributed to Charles Bridges (active in Virginia ca. 1735-40) and called Wilhelmina Byrd (1715-1760). However, it is not stylistically attributable to Bridges. Further, this portrait descended directly from Westover and no portrait of Wilhelmina appears in the 1813 Will of Mary Willing Byrd (Mrs. William Byrd III). The subject is Lucy Parke Byrd, first wife of William Byrd II, and was painted in England in 1716 – the only time the subject was documented in England. Lucy was the daughter of Daniel Parke and Jane Ludwell Parke. She was the mother of Evelyn and Wilhelmina Byrd.

Mary Willing Byrd’s will left the following portraits to Richard Willing Byrd: “his G. father’s [William Byrd II] that hangs in the South East room below stairs, and the portrait of his first [Lucy Parke] and second wife [Maria Taylor].”

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

The subject stands outdoors and wears a yellow wrap dress with blue ribbon at her breast. Her right hand is lifted and pointing to her right. A young enslaved male attendant wearing a blue Ottoman-inspired suit with silver trim and a red belt stands just behind her to her left. He offers her a gold-embroidered, red textile with his left hand. A coiled basket, likely made by Southeastern Indians, rests on a stone to her right. A white cloth hangs out of it. She stands parallel to the picture plane.

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; Janine Yorimoto Boldt, “‘Constantly to look at me’: Slavery and the Development of Colonial American Portraiture,” Winterthur Portfolio (Summer/Autumn 2022): 127-166; Janine Yorimoto Boldt, “Lucy Parke Byrd’s Body: Viewing Female Authority in Colonial Portraiture,” in Pleasing Truths: Power and Portraits in the American Home, ed. William A. Strollo (2023): 11-22.

Family: ByrdParke
Decade: 1710s
Credits: Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 2018.41