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Catalog Data

Artist:
Ezra Ames, 1768 - 1836  Search this
Sitter:
Betsey Colt Foot, 1774 - 1847  Search this
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Stretcher: 75.9 × 60.6 × 2.5 cm (29 7/8 × 23 7/8 × 1")
Type:
Painting
Place:
United States\New York\Albany\Albany
Date:
1815
Exhibition Label:
Born Hadley, Massachusetts
In the beginning of the nineteenth century, Betsey Colt Foot served as the guiding force behind the establishment of the Union School for girls in Albany, New York. Prompted by the lack of educational opportunities for her daughter, Lucretia, she encouraged her husband Ebenezer Foot, who was a lawyer, to draw up a charter for a new school that would provide girls with a classical education. They received overwhelming support from other families in the area, and the academy was soon realized.
The esteemed Albany portrait artist Ezra Ames created this portrait of Betsey following her husband’s death, which had occurred only months after the school opened in 1814. Although Ebenezer had accrued large gambling debts, Betsey remained optimistic about the work she had accomplished in the realm of girls’ education. As a widow, she supported herself and her daughter through opening her home to boarders. Far from characterizing her as passive or ornamental, as some artists tended to portray women at this time, Ames’s portrait captures Betsey’s strength and intelligence in her sparkling eyes and determined expression.
A principios del siglo XIX, Betsey Colt Foot fue la fuerza motriz en la fundación de la Union School for Girls en Albany, Nueva York. Motivada por la falta de oportunidades educativas para su hija Lucretia, exhortó a su esposo Ebenezer Foot, que era abogado, a redactar un acta constitutiva para una nueva escuela que ofreciera a las niñas una educación clásica. Recibieron el apoyo contundente de otras familias del área y la academia pronto se hizo realidad.
Ezra Ames, estimado retratista de Albany, creó este retrato de Betsey luego de la muerte de su esposo, ocurrida apenas unos meses después de la apertura de la escuela en 1814. Aunque Ebenezer había acumulado grandes deudas de juego, Betsey no perdió su optimismo por la obra que había logrado realizar en el campo de la educación de las niñas. Ya viuda, se ganó el sustento para ella y su hija alojando huéspedes en su hogar. Lejos de caracterizarla como pasiva u ornamental, según presentaban algunos artistas a las mujeres en esa época, el retrato de Ames refleja la fortaleza y la inteligencia de Betsey en su mirada brillante y expresión resuelta.
Provenance:
Family descent from Betsey Foot Colt; Seelye Burr Longnecker; gift to NPG 2016
Topic:
Interior  Search this
Home Furnishings\Curtain  Search this
Costume\Headgear  Search this
Betsey Colt Foot: Female  Search this
Betsey Colt Foot: Education and Scholarship\Educator  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Gift from Betsey Colt Foot’s great, great, great, great granddaughter Seelye Burr Longnecker
Object number:
NPG.2016.132
Restrictions & Rights:
CC0
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Location:
Currently not on view
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/sm428edc139-4d35-452a-9dd7-832610281845
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_NPG.2016.132