The Baptism Of Pocahontas By John Gadsby Chapman Essay

The Baptism Of Pocahontas By John Gadsby Chapman Essay

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The Baptism of Pocahontas by John Gadsby Chapman was commissioned in 1837and was placed in the Rotunda in 1840. The painting depicts the baptismal ceremony of Pocahontas and takes place in 1613 or 1614 in Jamestown, Virginia.1 The relationship between the Indians and Virginians was strained during this period. In an attempt to force the Powhatan Indians to negotiate a peace treaty, Virginia kidnapped Pocahontas in hopes that it would force the Indians to accept the peace treaty.2 Pocahontas had three options during her capture, and chose the option of marrying John Rolfe with the hopes of helping forge a relationship between the Virginians and her people.2 However, the armed guards and the somber look of the Indians seems to imply that the attempt was not successful and that the Baptism of Pocahontas may have been a staged event. The Indians appear less than happy that their daughter has decided to convert to Christianity and abandon her culture. The painting reveals the unhappiness of the father of Pocahontas due to the loss of his daughter. This parallels with the real life of Chapman whose heart was heavy because both his son and daughter died within two weeks of each other. In essence, both men lost their children in manners that were beyond their control. The author is successful in communicating contextual influences in his painting. During this period, Virginians and Indians had a strained relationship. The painting depicts the relationship in the defeated look on the face of the Indians and the armed guards. The message would not be difficult for a modern viewer to understand once they read the story of Pocahontas and her role in the attempt of the Virginians to procure the signing of the peace treaty by t...


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...hat Columbus did not discover America but rather confiscated this new land from natives already living there. The planting of the royal banner of Aragon and Castille signifies Columbus claiming the land for the Spanish people. Events that were occurring during the painting of the Landing of Christopher Columbus include westward expansion and political conflicts. The defeat of Mexico by America increased the size of the nation and the issue of slavery was still prevalent in America. Columbus is looking upward as if to thank God for a safe journey. The painting successfully depicts the events that may have been occurring during the time Columbus landed in San Salvador. The dark clouds are, perhaps, symbolic of the conflict that prevailed so that Columbus could claim the new land. The planting of his flag symbolizes that Columbus was successful in his conquest.


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