“The Dress of His Nation”: Romney’s Portrait of Joseph Brant

by Elizabeth Hutchinson


The controversial Mohawk leader Joseph Brant (1743–1807) posed for at least thirty-nine portraits during his lifetime. This article examines one of these portraits, made in 1776 by George Romney in London, where Brant was visiting on a diplomatic mission. Elizabeth Hutchinson’s interpretation sees the work as an expression of Brant’s sophisticated understanding of the role of cultural interlocutor. During a time when rapid social transformation made the relationship between character and appearance unstable, Brant carefully manipulated contemporary visual codes of identity to present himself as both modern gentleman and Native diplomat.

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