Five Generations of Nourse Family Artists


For the Nourse family, art is a most cherished tradition. Early relatives passed their paintings down through the generations. Mothers imparted their skills on their children and encouraged them to nurture their own lifelong artistic talents. Some industrious Nourse women even sold their pieces, sharing their artwork with their communities. Today the tradition continues with many Nourse descendants.

For the first time, the women and men of the Nourse family come together to share these talents in one “family” exhibition at their ancestral home of Dumbarton House. This unique display of family treasures illustrates five generations of artists, all direct descendants of Joseph and Maria Nourse, the residents of Dumbarton House from 1804 to 1813. Items from the Dumbarton Hosue collection, combined with objects loaned by The Warrenton Antiquarian Society at Weston Farmstead, Warrenton, VA, and family members, reveal the fascinating story of a family that cultivated artistic talent from the 18th century through the present. For some, a sketch is all that remains. Others were extremely prolific and left behind many pieces.

Dumbarton House hopes this exhibition sparks more than a passing curiosity, but rather serves as the foundation of something greater. Many members of the Nourse family, not direct descendants of Joseph and Maria, also carried on the family’s tradition and love for the arts.