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Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams

Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams
Henry Williams, 1787 - 1830
Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, 1775 - 1852
Hollow-cut silhouette, white paper on modern black paper
Image: 7.5 × 6 cm (2 15/16 × 2 3/8")
Sheet: 11.1 × 9 cm (4 3/8 × 3 9/16")
Mount: 17.8 × 14 cm (7 × 5 1/2")
Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams: Female
Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams: Politics and Government\First Lady\First Lady of US
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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Object number
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Born in London, Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams’s education at a convent school in France influenced her tactful approach to politics. Indeed, she went so far as to graciously host Andrew Jackson, one of her husband John Quincy Adams’s most difficult political foes. A talented harpist, Louisa Adams was exceptionally charismatic and loved to entertain. She was also a prolific writer, who used her position and political savvy to confront gender inequality in early American society. Adventures of a Nobody, begun around 1840, is one of the many autobiographical stories about her life.
This hollow-cut silhouette is an example of the most popular form of portraiture before the advent of photography. The New England-based artist Henry Williams probably cut this profile in Boston. In August 1809, Adams’s husband, John Quincy Adams, wrote in his diary, “I went to the Miniature Painter for my wife’s pictures, and had two profile shades taken of myself.”
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery