Changing Images of Pocahontas

  • By Susan K. Lewis
  • Posted 05.08.07
  • NOVA

For 400 years, playwrights and moviemakers, painters and sculptors, toy manufacturers and tobacco sellers have portrayed Pocahontas, shaping her appearance and narrative to suit their own purposes. To explore these depictions and compare myth to verifiable history, the Virginia Historical Society, led by curators William Rasmussen and Robert Tilton, assembled more than 40 paintings, prints, drawings, sheet music, and other objects. In this slide show, see a sampling of their remarkable exhibit.

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See a dozen portrayals of Pocahontas that reveal as much about their makers as about the woman herself.

This feature originally appeared on the site for the NOVA program Pocahontas Revealed. For more background on Pocahontas and the Virginia Historical Society exhibit, read the introduction from William Rasmussen and Robert Tilton's exhibit catalog.



(1616, 1624, early 1850s, c. 1868, 1870, 1852)
Courtesy Virginia Historical Society
(likely 1700s)
Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Courtesy The Library at the Mariners' Museum
(1825, 1836-40)
Courtesy Architect of the Capitol
Courtesy Virginia artist Mary Ellen Howe
Walt Disney Studios

Related Links

  • Pocahontas Revealed

    Examine a historical version of the story of Pocahontas and John Smith.

  • John Smith's Bold Endeavor

    Historian David Silverman describes the clash of cultures between Jamestown's colonists and Pocahontas's people.

  • Remembering Pocahontas

    Hear Chief Anne "Little Fawn" Richardson talk about the connection she feels to the famous Indian princess.


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