Martha Corbin (1738-1792)

Date: 1755

Martha Corbin was the daughter of John and Lettice Lee Corbin of Portobago. She married George Turberville.

Reference: A Corbin descendant was said to own a portrait of “Wife of above [Hon John Corbin], who was a Lee (Lettice), taken in full dress, brocade silk, with much lace,” and a portrait of “Betty Tayloe Corbin, married a Turberville, in full evening costume, brocade silk, handsome lace, decollete, an English face, full and florid, an exquisite arm and hand, which she displays to the best advantage by pointing to an imaginary object. (Painted by John Hesselius, 1755).” It is probable that the portrait described here as Lettice Lee is actually Martha Corbin, the daughter of Lettice and John. Martha Corbin married John Turberville. Her portrait by John Hesselius descended with that of her siblings, Jane and Gawin, who are also listed in the family history. Martha does not point at an imaginary object, however. Therefore, the portrait called “Betty Tayloe Corbin” is likely the portrait of Lettice Lee Corbin. Martha Corbin Turberville’s son, George Turberville, married Betty Tayloe (1764-ca. 1797) but her life dates suggest that this was not the subject of a 1755 Hesselius portrait.

Dimensions: 47 x 36 in. (119.38 x 91.44 cm.)

The subject stands outdoors in a landscape. She wears a Van Dyck-inspired dress with open seams, a bow at her breast and a cord around her waist. There appears to be a jewel embellishment on her left sleeve. Her left hand holds up drapery, which is around her waist and over the plinth. Her right elbow rests on a stone plinth and holds a rose.

See: Edmund Jennings Lee, Lee of Virginia, 1642-1892: Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of the Descendants of Colonial Richard Lee (1895), 92; MESDA Database, S-4671

Decade: 1750s
Credits: Private collection, MESDA Object Database, record S-4671, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), Winston-Salem, NC.