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(circa 1596-1617), American Indian princess

Pocahontas (Amonute) (née Matoaka, later Rebecca Rolfe)

Sitter in 3 portraits
Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, a ruler of the coastal region of present-day Virginia, is the most famous Native American from the early era of British colonial expansion in the New World. The arrival of English settlers in Virginia in 1607 led to armed conflict, the Indians had formed a powerful confederacy under the leadership of Chief Powhatan. In May 1610 tobacco planter John Rolfe arrived in Virginia, his development of a fine and profitable grade of tobacco helped revive the colony's economy. Attacks on the settlers were halted when Pocahontas was abducted in 1613. After a year in captivity, Pocahontas converted to Christianity. Baptised with the name Rebecca, she married John Rolfe with her father's consent. Their marriage is widely thought to be the first inter-racial church wedding in US history. Hostilities between the Jamestown settlers and local Indians subsided in 1614 mainly due to the couple's union. Their son Thomas was born in 1615, in 1616 the family sailed to England. Pocahontas, due to return imminently to Virginia with her family in 1617, died of pneumonia at Gravesend before setting aboard ship. She was buried at St George's Church, Gravesend, England. The life of Pocahontas has been fictionalised through art, literature and film. The tendency to romanticise her story was present in the earliest accounts of her life by authors such as Captain John Smith.

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Pocahontas, after Simon de Passe, published by  William Richardson - NPG D28135


after Simon de Passe, published by William Richardson
line engraving, published 1793 (1616)
NPG D28135

Pocahontas, published by William Richardson, after  Simon de Passe - NPG D5536


published by William Richardson, after Simon de Passe
line engraving, published 10 August 1793 (1616)
NPG D5536

Pocahontas, after Simon de Passe - NPG D5537


after Simon de Passe
line engraving, published 1793 (1616)
NPG D5537

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