Last History class, we began talking about the legendary Powhatan princess Pocahontas, daughter of the Chief of the Powhatan tribe Chief Powhatan. We first began by watching a few videos on her life that ranged from History.com educational videos to Walt Disney’s own depiction from 1995. We sought to find the most historically accurate incarnation of Pocahontas and truly learn her story, be it the fantastical John Smith version or not. So, using the OPVL method of analysis we looked at various photos of paintings of Pocahontas from the Van de Passe’s 1616 painting to the 1995 Walt Disney depiction.
Now, using the OPVL method it is clear that after close analysis the 1994 Mary Ellen Howe painting is probably the closest depiction of Pocahontas ever made. Looking a bit deeper into the analysis, although the painting was created by Mary Ellen Howe in 1994 (O) the artist studied the likeness and skin color-scheme of various indigenous tribes such as the Pamunkey, Mattoponi, and Rappahannock Indians for 6 days, also she used the 1616 Van de Passe depiction as a model. The purpose of the portait was so that she could truly capture Pocahontas’ lioness in order to preserve her image in history (P). Of course, all things have pros and cons (V&L) as for pros both the skin color and facial features are modeled after modern Virginian Natives, thus giving it a certain degree of accuracy, yet cons could be that it was based on a representation (1616 VDP) that was created to represent an “Anglicized” Pocahontas, which could be inaccurate.
So, overall after close analysis it is visible that Mary Ellen Howe’s representation of Pocahontas is the most accurate out go the 12 we were given. It has the correct skin color and facial features, was based off of a 1616 painting of her, and the artist put research into it in order to preserve the true image of Pocahontas.
The artist responsible for the painting, Mary Ellen Howe
Mary Ellen Howe's 1994 representation of Pocahontas