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Exhibit Catalog to the Morris County Historical Society's "Out of the Closet" Exhibition

Mr. And Mrs. Thompson

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Click picture to enlarge

Artist unknown
Portrait of Charles Thompson of Mendham
Circa 1843
Oil on canvas
22 1/2 x 27 in.
 
Gift from the Estate of Edna Wilson.
 
 
 


Click picture to enlarge

Artist unknown
Portrait of Clarissa Byram Thompson of Mendham
Circa 1843
Oil on canvas
24 x 29 in.
 
Gift from the Estate of Edna Wilson.
 
 
 
The Subjects: Charles and Clarissa Thompson
 
The portraits of Clarissa Byram Thompson (1795 - 1878) and Charles Thompson (1785 - 1864) of Mendham, circa 1843, were donated to the historical society in 2008 by Sue W. Officer and Andrew P. Wilson, the children of Edna W. Wilson of Morristown.  The paintings were part of their mother’s estate.  Mrs. Wilson, who passed away in January 2008, was a teacher with a great appreciation for history and a visitor to Acorn Hall.

 

According to Ms. Officer, the paintings hung in her family’s Morristown home for at least 68 years and were passed down through the family for generations.  They have always been referred to as wedding portraits.  The Thompsons are the donors’ great-great-great-great-great grandparents (fifth generation).  Clarissa Byram Thompson is descended from John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, who came to the new world on the Mayflower.  The family tree includes familiar Morris County names such as Byram, Prudden, Thompson, and Ralston.  Their ancesters are frequently mentioned in the History of Morris County New Jersey 1739 – 1882.

 

It is believed that Clarissa and Charles Thompson lived in Mendham.  The portraits are good representatives of typical portraits painted during the time period in the area.  Artists sometimes traveled from town to town to paint portraits of local residents.  They appear to have been painted by two different artists.  The local provenance of the portraits was a unique addition to the Society’s art collection.