Maria Taylor Byrd (Mrs. William Byrd II, 1698-1771)

Artist: Unknown
Date: probably 1724-1726

Maria Taylor lived in Kensington, England and was the second wife of William Byrd II. She was the mother of Anne Byrd Carter, William Byrd III, Maria Byrd Carter, and Jane Byrd Page. She appears to have been painted in England before the couple moved permanently to Virginia in 1726. She was likely painted between 1724, when they were married, and 1726, when they traveled to Virginia.

Mary Willing Byrd’s 1813 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].”

The portrait represents a woman wearing a silver wrap dress with blue drapery around one arm. Her left arm rests on grass-covered stone and her right hand holds a small, round, tin dish, which catches a small stream of water. She is seated outdoors in front of a rocky outcropping and foliage and is turned slightly to her left.

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; Wayne Craven, Colonial American Portraiture (1986), 205-213; The Met Online Collection

Family: Byrd
Decade: 1720s
Credits: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 25.108.