Category Archives: Phillis Wheatley, Dido Belle

Phillis Wheatley or Dido Elizabeth Belle?

Now that we have the fascinating story of Dido Belle, let’s take another look at this supposed portrait of Phillis Wheatley in evening dress. Image Published in a French review in the 1830s, long after Wheatley’s death, there is virtually no documentation to establish the subject’s identity. I’d say it is far more likely a depiction of Dido Belle. Image

Detail from double portrait of Elizabeth Murray and her cousin, Dido Elizabeth Belle by an unknown artist (formerly att. Johann Zoffany).

Scotland (1779). Oil on canvas.

Scone Palace, Perth (private collection of the Earl of Mansfield



Engraved portrait of Phillis Wheatley, used as the frontispiece to her collection of poems, Reflections on Various Subjects Religious and Moral (London, 1773). Attributed to the poet and visual artist Scipio Moorhead, a slave in Boston, Massachusetts, and a friend of Phillis Wheatley. One element of the identification of the  portrait as Wheatley might have been a mention of the subject’s finger held to her cheek.

— Marilyn Richardson


Boston Women’s Memorial 10th Anniversary

Some of Susan Wilson’s wonderful photographs of the 10th anniversary of the unveiling of the Boston Women’s Memorial on Commonwealth Avenue. The sculptor, Meredith Bergmann, is also a respected poet, and chose to read a poem for the occasion.

Marie Turley


Marie Turley shepherded the project through all the years of planning and political decisions. 

Meredith reads

The sculptor, Meredith Bergmann, reading a poem she wrote for the celebration.


A rare opportunity to see the model for an important work of art.

With Senator Warren

Mayor and Mrs. Menino, Senator Warren, major donors, students, and various public figures were all part of the enthusiastic audience.

Three Women Honored on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston


The artist is Meredith Bergmann. I had the honor of writing the engraved biographical sketches for each woman – – Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley, Lucy Stone.

The Boston Women’s Memorial celebrates three important contributors to Boston’s rich history. Each of these women had progressive ideas that were ahead of her time, was committed to social change, and left a legacy through her writings that had a significant impact on history. 

The sculptures were dedicated on October, 25th 2003 on the historic Commonwealth Avenue Mall in Boston, between Fairfield and Gloucester Streets. Artist Meredith Bergmann’s vision for this memorial represents the forefront of new thinking about representation in public art. Unlike conventional statues that are larger than life or set high upon pedestals, the subjects of the Boston Women’s Memorial are sculpted in a manner that invites the observer to interact with them.

Each woman is shown in a pose that reflects the use of language in her life and instead of standing on her pedestal, she is using it. This memorial combines symbols found in the traditional sculptures surrounding it, but uses them in new and original ways.






“Imagination! Who can sing thy force?

Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?

Soaring through air to find the bright abode,

Th’ empyreal palace of the thund’ring God,

We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,

And leave the rolling universe behind:

From star to star the mental optics rove,

Measure the skies, and range the realms above.

There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,

Or with new worlds amaze th’ unbounded soul…”





And across the centuries since Phillis Wheatley first wrote, we celebrate 50 years since the publication of a book, by a Nigerian writer, that changed the way the West would think about African nations.