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Painters and Paintings in the Early American South

Trace the rise of southern society in this groundbreaking exhibition, featuring more than 80 paintings made in the early American South or imported to the region between 1740 and 1790.

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  • Carolyn Weekley

    A Word from the Curator

    “Nothing like this has been done before—having all these wonderful examples in one place at the same time. Most importantly, the exhibition will illustrate the myriad connections between art centers of the early South, New England, the Middle Atlantic, and Europe.”

    —Carolyn Weekley, Colonial Williamsburg’s Juli Grainger Curator and author of Painters and Paintings in the Early American South, the first comprehensive study on the subject. The book is available for purchase at and in WILLIAMSBURG stores.

From Oil on Canvas
to Pixels on a Screen

In the early American South, commissioned paintings were a formal and lengthy process. Today, in a world where sharing a high-quality image is just a click away, portraits have become ubiquitous. Social media sites have made sharing moments, landscapes, and fashion choices so easy that more than 50 photos are uploaded every second.

When the generations to come look back at our lives, they’ll see it all. But what can we glean from the detailed, deliberate portraits of the 18th century that have been left to us? Discover these answers and more—wander through our galleries and experience the interwoven stories and struggles of the South.

Get a sneak peek of some of the portraits on view, here.

Follow the Exhibition

Go behind the curtain at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and see the exhibition progress from conservation to completion.

Experience the Stories of the South

Buy Tickets

Purchase your admission tickets to explore the world-class Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and see the faces of the Early American South firsthand.

Make it a Getaway

Enjoy a weekend of art, fine dining, history, shopping, and leisure with the 3 day/2 night Colonial Williamsburg Experience hotel package—and your admission is included.

This exhibition was made possible through the generosity of Juli and David Grainger and The Grainger Foundation along with The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), a major loaning partner.

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