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Portrait of Joyce Armistead Booth (Mrs. Mordecai Booth)

1748-1750
Origin: America, Virginia, Gloucester
Framed 57”H x 46 3/8” W; unframed 50 ¼" H x 39 ½" W
Oil on canvas
Gift of Julia Miles Brock, Edward Taliaferro Miles, and Georgianna Serpell Miles in Memory of their Mother, Alice Taliaferro Miles
Acc. No. 2018-165,A&B
Portrait of a woman in a blue dress seated in a red upholstered backstool. She holds a snuffbox in her right hand and a handkerchief in her left. Her left elbow is resting on a marbletop table next to a book. There is a red drape in the upper right corner.

The 3 7/8-inch bolection-molded, black-painted frame has a flat liner and is original. In October 2018, microscopic evidence revealed the liner was once sand-gilded and the furniture lab restored that portion of the frame accordingly.
Label:In the first half of the 18th century, William Dering was a well-connected dancing master and artist who lived and worked in Williamsburg, Virginia. Little is known about William Dering in his early years, but he arrived in Williamsburg from Philadelphia in 1737. He advertised in the Virginia Gazette that same year, the first of several occasions he did so, to announce the opening of a dancing school at the College of William & Mary. By 1744 his success enabled him to purchase two lots and move into the Thomas Everard House on Palace Green. The following year, Dering advertised twice to promote “an assembly at the Capitol…during the Court,” a ball held when the capital city was busy with visiting elected representatives from across the colony. During his time in Williamsburg, Dering also befriended William Byrd II, a Virginia planter and Renaissance man who owned one of the largest art collections in the American colonies. During his many visits to Byrd’s James River estate, Dering painted his daughter Anne Byrd Carter. (Her portrait is also in the Colonial Williamsburg collection.) The artist’s extravagant lifestyle led to debt, however, and he was twice forced to mortgage his property. Ultimately, Dering departed Williamsburg for Charleston, South Carolina leaving his wife and son behind for a year to handle the public sale of his possessions. Little is known about Dering or his family after 1750.

Today, only six of his paintings are known to survive; four, including the artist’s only known signed and dated portrait, are in Colonial Williamsburg’s collection, the largest assemblage of his work.


Provenance:The portrait descended in the family of the subject to CWF's source, Julia Miles Brock, Georgianna Serpell Miles, and Edward Taliaferro Miles.