Virginia Manchester Luce portrait
Frederick Mayhew (1785–1854)
Oil on canvas.
Gift of Helen C. H. Hart
The daughter of a master mariner who died at sea, Virginia Manchester of Tisbury was well aware of the dangers and heartbreaks that accompanied life in a seagoing family. In this portrait, probably made around the time of her marriage to Richard G. Luce Jr. at the age of nineteen, she exhibits a dignity that contrasts with her young face, but that befits the bride of a whaling captain.
The artist was Chilmark native Frederick Mayhew. He painted many of his neighbors on Martha's Vineyard during the first three decades of the nineteenth century. Mayhew advertised as a painter and miniaturist in the New-Bedford Mercury, and most of his portraits depict mariners, their wives, and children.
The Martha's Vineyard Museum holds ten Frederick Mayhew paintings and miniatures in its collections. They provide a rare and valuable record of the way Vineyarders looked in the era that immediately preceded the invention of photography.