The Abduction of Pocahontas
Original Author: Jean-Léon Gérôme Ferris
Created: Early twentieth century
Medium: Oil on canvas
Publisher: Virginia Historical Society

The Abduction of Pocahontas

An early twentieth-century oil painting by Philadelphia artist Jean-Léon Gérôme Ferris presents a dramatic scene of the arrival of Pocahontas, daughter of Indian paramount chief Powhatan, in Jamestown following her abduction by Samuel Argall in April 1613. The Virginia Historical Society website describes the romanticized painting as follows:

The stately figure at the right, presumably governor Sir Thomas Gates, embodies the dignity and virtue of Anglo-Saxon culture. A gracious Pocahontas is obliged to recount the behavior of Argall, at the left. The artist casts Argall as a foil against more virtuous representatives of two great civilizations.

Ferris studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and in Paris, and he specialized in re-creating scenes from American history—painting around seventy such canvases—and selling reproductions of them for use in calendars, magazines, and other commercial ventures.