Eleanor Calvert Custis
Original Author: Unknown artist; Mark Finkenstaedt, photographer
Created: 1782 painting; 2009 photograph
Medium: Miniature painting

Eleanor Calvert Custis

Twenty-four-year-old Eleanor Calvert Custis—the widow of John Parke Custis and the mother of four young children—is the subject of this 1782 miniature portrait. A year after this painting was made, Eleanor Custis married David Stuart, a physician who practiced in Alexandria. The approximately two-and-one-half-inch by two-inch image is nestled on a silk pillow inside the case; a matching pillow is inside the lid. The following is written in black ink on the top pillow: "My beloved and / excellent Mother / Mrs. Stuart. This / miniature taken / when the widow / Custis aged 24." The writing continues on the pillow beneath the image: "Her maiden name / Calvert, charged who / ever may possess it / to preserve it."