Tag Archives: portraits

Collection of Colonial Governor Portraits by William Ludwell Sheppard (1833–1912)

State Art Collection
1877
3 paintings. Oil on canvas. Dimensions: De La Warr – canvas 29 ¼ x 25 ½ in.; frame 36 x 32 in. Dunmore – canvas 29 ¼ x 25 ½ in; frame: 36 x 32 in. Effingham – canvas 30 x 24 7/8 in.; frame 39 ½ x 34 ½ in.

On June 2, 1877, the Daily Dispatch reported that “W.L. Sheppard, Esq., artist of this city, will sail from New York for Europe on the 12th, and will be absent in France one or two years.” It was not unusual for 19th-century American artists to take extended tours through Europe to study with masters or visit museums to refine their craft. However, Sheppard, a Richmonder perhaps best known for his Civil War sketches and depictions of postwar southern life, had an additional reason for his trip. The Commonwealth of Virginia had commissioned him to paint portraits of three of Virginia’s colonial governors: Thomas West, third baron De La Warr; Francis Howard, fifth baron Howard of Effingham; and John Murray, fourth earl of Dunmore.

William Ludwell Sheppard (1833–1912) started as a clerk in a Richmond merchant firm, but quickly realized that his true interest and talent lay in art. While he was initially a self-taught painter, he went to New York in the 1850s to work and study. On his first trip to Europe, in 1860, he visited museums … more

Collection of Commonwealth of Virginia Governors’ Portraits (State Art Collection)

2nd quarter of the 19th century–2014
82 paintings. Oil on canvas, oil on wood, pastel on paper.
From 21″ H x 18″ W framed to 69″ H x 51″ W framed.

Patrick Henry, by George B. Matthews, 1883Governors were initially elected by the General Assembly, with gubernatorial vacancies being filled by members of the Council of State. Five of these acting governors have portraits in the collection: William Fleming, Wyndham Robertson, John Mercer Patton, John Rutherfoord, and John Munford Gregory. The Constitution of 1851 established the popular election of governors and also set a four-year term limit. While governors cannot serve consecutively, they can be re-elected, and a portrait is commissioned at the end of each term. Currently, Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr. (1966–1970, 1974–1978) is represented by two portraits in the Governors’ Gallery. The collection lacks portraits of governors Beverley Randolph (1788–1797), Robert Brooke (1794–1796), and James Wood (1796–1799), and acting governors Hardin Burnley (1799), John Pendleton (1799), and Peyton Randolph (1811–1812).

The first set of governors’ portraits came into the state collection in 1873, when the Library of Virginia (then the Virginia State Library) acquired portraits of James Barbour, Robert Brooke [1], John Floyd, John Buchanan Floyd, William Branch Giles, Joseph Johnson, John Rutherfoord, George William Smith, William Smith, John Tyler Sr., and John Tyler Jr. Over the next few decades, portraits came to the Library as gifts from governors and their family members or were purchased by the … more