American Portraits in Spitalfields Silk: Atlantic World Material Culture and Visual Expressions of Eighteenth-Century American Identity, 1730--1790


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Department of History


In 1746, Robert Feke painted Philadelphian Anne Shippen Willing wearing a Spitalfields silk, woven in London by Huguenot Simon Julins, after a pattern drawn by silk designer Anna Maria Garthwaite. The visual codes of this portrait and silk dress illuminate how eighteenth-century Americans used Atlantic World material culture to visually express identity. Each chapter of my dissertation takes one of these enigmatic people as the departure point for discussing visual and material culture related to them. As they created and used objects, they also fashioned and displayed personal, political, cultural, and aesthetic identities. My dissertation explores the cultural resonance of Atlantic World material culture in America: a resonance forever captured in this single portrait.