COLLECTION: Paintings

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Portrait of Mary Armistead Carter (Mrs. Landon Carter II) (ca. 1780-1840)

ca. 1825
Origin: America, Virginia, Alexandria
Framed: OH: 52 in.; OW: 42 3/4 in.
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase, The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections Fund
Acc. No. 2018-155,A&B
Portrait of a woman wearing a black dress with ruffled lace collar and a white turban. She is seated in an upholstered red arm chair in front of a landscape background. The background appears to be a scene of the Potomac River and newly rebuilt White House.
Label:Mary Armistead Carter was born about 1780 to John Bowles Armistead and Lucy Page Armistead. In 1796 she married Landon Carter II of Sabine Hall and together the couple had four children. Landon passed away in 1820 leaving behind his wife and their four young children, as well as five children from his previous marriage to Catherine Griffith Tayloe. When Landon passed away, his will named his only son from his first marriage, Robert Carter, as his executor. Over the years Robert repeatedly took his stepmother to court over rent and other monies he believed that she owed him by continuing to live at Sabine Hall. Finally after a decade, the courts settled the back and forth claims and Mary was granted an annuity. An annuity which Robert was almost always late in paying, and the next decade of her life was spend begging her stepson for the money she was owed.

This portrait was likely painted after Mary had moved to Shuter’s Hill in Alexandria, Virginia. Shuter’s Hill was an elegant two-story residence built in the 1770s by John Mills. It was purchased by Benjamin Dulany in 1799 to be a summer house for his family. By 1827, Mary Armistead Carter was living at Shuter’s Hill with her daughter, Francis A. Carter Dulany and her husband, Henry Rozier Dulany, Benjamin Dulany’s grandson.
Provenance:This portrait and that of the sitter's son (2018.100.2) likely hung at Crednal in Middleburg during the sitter's lifetime. After John's death both the house and the paintings descended through the family, first to his son, Richard Welby Carter; to his daughter, Fannie Carter Marshall who died in 1945 at which time the house was sold but the portraits remained in the family until they were sold to Colonial Williamsburg.