In 1759, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Allen Deas sat for her portrait by the noted Charleston artist Jeremiah Theus (1716-1774). The Swiss-born painter immigrated to South Carolina as a teen in 1735 and over the next four decades established himself as the pre-eminent portrait painter of Charleston, recording an impressive number of the area’s social and political elite. His likeness of Elizabeth was probably painted in conjunction with her marriage to John Deas, a successful merchant and planter.
Today, that 18th-century painting of young Elizabeth Allen Deas is reunited at Colonial Williamsburg with the impressive Charleston-made double chest of drawers that Elizabeth and John once owned. These important objects are just two of the many examples of furniture, paintings, textiles, metals, ceramics, firearms, print, maps, and numismatics that have been brought to life in a very 21st-century way. The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg joined the Google Art Project effort this month, offering a sampling of high-resolution images from its vast collections – including this painting by Theus.
The Google Art Project, Google’s partnership with museums around the world, shares the world’s art treasures to a global community and provides a technology-based way to learn more about the artwork.
For those who’ve ever wished to get within a nose-length of a great work of art, the Google Art Project website offers state-of-the-art technology to zoom in and inspect paintings and other art objects. Other tech features include:
- “Compare,” allowing visitors to examine two pieces of artwork side by side.
- “My Gallery,” a gallery-building tool for personalized art collections to be shared with friends, classmates or students.
- A search tool enabling visitors to filter the Google Art collection by artist, collection, medium, date and more.
About 200 partners participate in the two-year-old Google Art Project, which features more than 48,000 works from museums and collections in more than 40 countries.
“We are excited about being able to share our unique collections with a wider audience through this partnership,” said Ronald L. Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg’s Vice President for Collections, Conservation and Museums and Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator. “The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is committed to bringing the works in our collections directly to desktops, tablets or mobile devices anywhere in the world in this very dynamic and personal manner.”
The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, with more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum exhibits the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670–1830.
The Google Art Project is part of the Google Cultural Institute, which also includes the World Wonders Project and museum archive exhibitions. The goal of the Institute is to increase the range and volume of material from the cultural world available for people to explore online — and in doing so, democratize access to it and preserve it for future generations.