The Atlantic World in a Portrait
This book presents an episodic history that travels back and forth across time and space in the eighteenth-century world of the British Atlantic. This introductory chapter focuses on the portrait at the heart of this book, that of Anne Shippen Willing (1710–91), the Philadelphia-born granddaughter of the city's first mayor, Quaker merchant Edward Shippen, and wife of English-born merchant Charles Willing (1710–54). Anne was thirty-six years old when the portrait was painted in 1746. She wore a dress that was fashioned in Philadelphia by a colonial seamstress, from fabric designed and woven in London of raw silk from cocoons made by silkworms in China, Persia, Italy, America, or Turkey. Within the portrait, the embedded stories, characters, and meanings unfold as a series of narratives, each building on the other to create layers of historical discourse around this single object.
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