Pocahontas in Image and Myth

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Legends and images of Pocahontas, the young Native American woman who reportedly rescued Captain John Smith of the Jamestown settlement in the early 1600s, became popular in Western culture during her lifetime and continue to evolve into the present day. This lecture examines representations of this renowned yet elusive historical figure in the context of various narratives about her life and period attitudes about Native Americans. In images ranging from seventeenth-century prints, to the VMFA’s 1889 portrait by Richard Norris Brooke, to the late-twentieth-century Disney movie, Pocahontas appears as a complex character invested with diverse meanings as an exotic curiosity, exemplary Christian convert, and feminist heroine.