Unknown Children

Date: 1773

These children were identified by family tradition as John Parke Custis (1754-1781) and Martha Parke Custis (1755-1773). However, the painting is clearly by Matthew Pratt and cannot represent those siblings who were too old by 1773 when Pratt came to Virginia. The painting descended in the Bolling-Lee family and likely represents other, unidentified members of the related Bolling, Lee, or Custis family.


The portrait represents two children sitting outdoors. A young girl sits on the right and is turned towards her right. She wears a white gown with a floral pattern and sleeve ruffles and a pink sash around her waist. Her hands are on a basket of flowers, which are on her lap. A young boy is on the girl’s right and he leans towards her. he wears a blue gown with buttons and a long jacket. His left hand is wrapped around the girl’s shoulder and his right hand holds up two flowers.

See: Carolyn J. Weekley, Painters and Paintings in the Early American South (2013), 348.

Location: Unknown
Decade: 1770s
Credits: Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 1949.35.