William Byrd III (1728-1777)

Artist: Unknown
Date: 1729-1730

This painting was previously attributed to Charles Bridges, ca. 1735; however, it was likely painted ca. 1730 by an unknown artist. It was painted as a pendant to a portrait of his sister Anne Byrd, who did not arrive in Virginia until 1730. William Byrd III was the son of William Byrd II and Maria Taylor Byrd. The subject was also painted as an adult.

This is likely the portrait of William Byrd III “at full-length” that was left in the Will of Mary Willing Byrd to Richard Willing Byrd.

Dimensions: 49 3/4 x 40 1/2 in. (126.37 x 102.87 cm.)

The portrait represents a young boy who is nude except for silver fringed blue drape. He stands outdoors in a wooded landscape holding one end of an arrow. An enslaved youth in a blue suit stands behind a rock and holds the opposite end of the arrow. A bow lies on the rock between the boys.

This portrait is in the collection of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

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; Encyclopedia Virginia; Janine Yorimoto Boldt, “‘Constantly to look at me’: Slavery and the Development of Colonial American Portraiture,” Winterthur Portfolio (Summer/Autumn 2022): 127-166.


Family: Byrd
Decade: 1730s