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Margaret "Peggy" Custis Wilson (Mrs. John Custis Wilson)

1791
Origin: America, Maryland, Somerset County
OH: 41" X OW: 31 1/2" (framed) H: 35 1/2" X W: 26 1/2" (sight)
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase, Mark and Loretta Roman, H. Furlong Baldwin, The Gladys and Franklin Clark Foundation, and The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections Fund
Acc. No. 2014-46,A&B
Half-length portrait of seated woman wearing dark yellow dress and white cap and fichu. Seen holding a small bouquet of yellow and pink flowers. Her proper right elbow rests on a small, wooden table beside three peaches. The background includes a dark red-brown curtain at left and a green-gray wall at right.
Label:In 1791, the country’s preeminent artist Charles Willson Peale rendered these likenesses of John Custis Wilson and his wife Peggy, along with a portrait of their son. The artist’s diary notes that the images were completed in less than two weeks while he was a guest at the couple’s Westover Plantation on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The paintings are impressive examples of Peale’s always outstanding work. Wilson’s relaxed pose, his hunting rifle, and the expanse of open land in the background of the painting combined with the floral spray and still life composition in Peggy’s companion portrait convey the utmost gentility and refinement of the couple who was later described by Peale as “one of the richest in the country.” Receipts for the three pictures totaled £52.10.0, the equivalent of two very fine mahogany desks and bookcases or over four dozen mahogany chairs.

The portraits of John Custis Wilson and his wife, displayed here in their original gilt frames, are reunited for the first time in over 60 years.
Provenance:The artist to Colonel John Custis WIlson; to his son Henry Parke Custis Wilson; to Ellen Savage; to Susan Wilson Mackenzie; to Catherine Morris Whitridge; to Susan Xanders Deering (nee Whitridge Stinson); to Colonial Williamsburg.
Inscription(s):Lower right corner: "C.W. Peale/ painted 1791"