Elizabeth Randolph, c. 1755
At the time she sat for John Wollaston, Elizabeth Randolph (born c. 1750–died before 1773) was just beginning to learn genteel behavior, for she was probably not much more than five or six years of age. Nonetheless, she already could dress in the manner of and assume the bearing of a lady. A cold and stark masonry frame derived from the European portrait tradition enframes her. This convention may seem odd for an image of a young child, but it served to convey the sitter's Old World heritage. Wollaston gave patron William Randolph III not only a portrait of a beloved daughter but also made clear to all this heir's expected place in society.
This portrait has considerable charm. The conventions in the image only accentuate the fragility of the sitter, and Wollaston found in a lady's fashion doll a means to ameliorate the cold formality. The doll is virtually a mirror image of the child. Play with a doll was an opportunity to change roles, to become the one who grooms rather than the one who is groomed, to pass on lessons of etiquette just learned. Elizabeth arranges flowers in the doll's hair akin to the ones in her own.
Elizabeth Randolph would marry Philip Ludwell Grymes. Like her older sister Anne, she tragically died in her early twenties.