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American Paintings and Sculpture
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Charles Fraser, American, 1782–1860
After: Samuel Finley Breese Morse, American, 1791–1872, B.A. 1810, M.A. 1816, LL.D. 1846
Subject: Martha Pawley LaBruce, American, 1766–1822

Martha Pawley LaBruce (1766–1822)


Watercolor on ivory

3 1/8 × 2 1/2 in. (7.9 × 6.4 cm)
Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
Charles Fraser was a lawyer, author, poet, and orator in Charleston, South Carolina. He was the youngest of fourteen children born to Mary Grimké and Alexander Fraser, both of whom died when he was nine years old. Local artist Thomas Coram briefly tutored Fraser in drawing around 1795, until his guardians discouraged the lessons. Fraser soon after studied law and began his professional practice in 1807. He retired from the law in 1818 to devote himself to painting, producing miniatures of Charleston’s leading citizens, and he came to be known as Charleston’s finest miniaturist. By 1846 he had entered 633 works in his account book. In 1828 Fraser made this small-scale, posthumous copy of an easel painting by Samuel F. B. Morse of the recently widowed Martha LaBruce. Many miniaturists painted copies after large portraits to provide portable keepsakes for family and close friends. LaBruce, like many of Fraser’s sitters, belonged to one of the wealthiest landowning families in South Carolina. Late in Fraser’s career, the city of Charleston mounted an exhibition of more than 450 of his miniatures and other paintings to honor the artist.
Made in United States
Not on view
19th century
Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.