Face-to-Face: Dolley Madison portrait

About the Project

As part of the National Portrait Gallery's education program "Face-to-Face," Ellen Miles, curator of painting and sculpture at NPG, discusses a portrait of Dolley Madison by William Elwell. Dolley Madison served as White House hostess during the administrations of the widowed Thomas Jefferson and her own husband, James Madison. Her effervescence doubtless accounted, in part at least, for the popularity of Madison's presidency in its last several years. After the end of Madison's term in 1817, Dolley helped her husband put his papers in order, selling a portion of them to Congress after his death. The work is displayed on the museum's second floor, in the exhibition "America's Presidents." Recorded at NPG, March 5, 2009. Image info: Dolley Dandridge Payne Todd Madison / William S. Elwell, 1848 / Oil on canvas / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Face-to-Face talk currently located on the National Portrait Gallery's iTunesU page. ["Dolley Madison" by William S. Elwell. NPG.74.6]

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