Pocahontas oil painting on canvas from 1616

Pocahontas oil painting on canvas from 1616


Pocahontas was an Indian princess born near Richmond, Virginia. Early explorer, Captain John Smith, claimed to Queen Anne that she saved his life. Pocahontas was kidnapped in 1613 by English settlers in Stafford, VA and kept aboard the ship of  Samuel Argall.  The rationale for her abduction was, “for the ransoming of so many Englishmen as were prisoners with Powhatan: as also to get … armes and tools … [and] some quantities of Corne, for the colonies relief.”  She eventually learned to learn English and converted to Christianity.

Pocahontas oil painting 1616

“Motoaks at Rebecka daughter to the mighty Prince Powhatan Emperour of Attanoughkomouck at Virginia converted and baptized in the Christian faith and wife to the Wor Mr. Tho: Rolff”

Family History

Pocahontas married Englishman John Rolfe in 1614 and traveled with her family to England. In England, she was treated as a novelty and celebrity by the public as an example of New World colonist. She became sick on her visit to London, died and was buried at Gravesend.

Oil Painting History

This oil painting was based off an earlier engraving produced in England by Simon de Passe.

The oil painting by an unknown artist presently housed in the American origins wing of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C..

Pocahontas’s Gold Buttons

Pocahontas was a nickname for “Matoaka”. Pocahontas means ‘little play thing’. When Pocahontas converted to Christianity she took the name “Rebecca”.

Gold buttons worn by Pocahontas

Gold buttons worn by Pocahontas in England. Circa 1616-1617.