Painted by artist Robert Weir, The Embarkation of the Pilgrims was commissioned by the United States Congress in 1837 and placed in the Rotunda of the US Capitol in late 1843. The portrait depicts the Separatist congregation’s last service aboard the Speedwell in Delft Haven, Holland, just before the departure of those who were sailing for the New World. The painting’s three central figures are
- Elder William Brewster, who is holding the Bible;
- John Carver, who would become the first governor of Plymouth Colony after the Mayflower landed; and
- the congregation’s pastor, John Robinson. Robinson, who would remain in Holland, is kneeling with his face turned heavenward.
Between Brewster and Carver is William Bradford, who would succeed Carver after the first governor’s death in 1621 and and serve until his own death in 1657. Between Carver and Robinson is Bradford’s first wife, Dorothy, who would perish soon after the Mayflower landed.
The risks were great, but these believers felt divinely led to make the voyage.
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Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.