Mary Trusler


Jeremiah Theus ( American, 1719 - 1774 )

c. 1760
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General Description

Painted about five years into Mary Trusler's second marriage, her portrait reveals Jeremiah Theus's direct observation of his Charlestonian sitter, her desire for elegant representation, and his own stylistic difficulties. Theus, who had immigrated to South Carolina from Switzerland with his family as a teenager, looked to the oval format of imported mezzotints as a model for his portraits. The luxurious satin dress Mary Trusler wears was also taken directly from an engraved source, shown by the contrast between its hard-edged, uniformly lit folds and the much more sensitively modeled face of his sitter. The elaborate bow on Mary Trusler's lace shawl, known as a fichu, and the string of pearls around her neck are devices Theus used in many of his portraits to bridge the gap between what was real and what was borrowed from artistic sources, often with his sitters' full compliance. Her expression suggests that she was a prosperous woman of solid character. She was married first to a wealthy landowner and then to a businessman, both of whom have streets named after them in Charleston today.

Adapted from

  • William Keyse Rudolph, DMA label text, 2006.

  • DMA unpublished material.

Web Resources

  • Gibbes Museum of Art
    Explore other works by Jeremiah Theus at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina.