New Castle, Delaware
Community History and Archaeology Program 
Dorcas Montgomery Van Dyke Dupont

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Dorcas Montgomery Van Dyke Dupont   (1806-1838)

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Address300 Delaware
ArtistThomas Sully (1783-1872)
Date painted1832
CreditHagley Museum and Library
MarriedCharles Irenee du Pont (1824)
ParentsNicholas Van Dyke Jr. & Mary Van Leuvenigh
ChildrenVictor, Charles

Smithsonian listing

The advance in the attractiveness, naturalness and just plain beauty in portraiture from Hesselius to the Peales to Sully is especially seen in this painting by Sully of Dorcas Van Dyke Dupont . Having seen the portrait in person, I can say that the portrayal is breathtaking. An 1844 statement in Godey's Lady's Book says it all: "Sully, as all the world knows, paints exquisitely beautiful portraits of ladies. His praise is in all the parlours."

The reaction to portraiture by less skilled painters was sometimes direct. For example George Read Sr.'s daughter on first seeing his portrait by Robert Edge Pine, exclaimed "Take away that Saracen's head."

A faux newspaper account in the Sunday Star (1949) portrayed the glamour of the wedding of Dorcas to Charles I. duPont. Click on the "full screen icon" on the google page to read conveniently.

Dorcas du Pont, despite the giddy newspaper writeup about the "Lucky Van Dyke girls" did not have a long happy life. She died at age 32 after a long illness. Her papers, available at Hagley "consist of letters to her sister-in-law Sophie M. Du Pont and primarily discuss her poor health"

Jim Meek
nc-chap.org 2014, 2015