Born in England, Juliana Westray made her dramatic debut in Boston in 1797. In 1803 she joined the Philadelphia company of actor, director, and theater manager William Burke Wood, whom she married in 1804. A preeminent actress for the next twenty years, she was best known for her performances in Macbeth, Sir Walter Scott’s Heart of Midlothian, and Richard Sheridan’s comedy of manners, School for Scandal.
This portrait shows Juliana Wood in front of a stage, indicated by a curtain and ropes. David Edwin’s engraving of the portrait was published in the March 1811 issue of The Mirror of Taste, and Dramatic Censor, which featured theater reviews, the texts of plays, and essays on the history of the stage. The text called the portrait “a striking resemblance of a lady whose public talents and private virtues have raised her to a very high rank in public estimation.”