Portrait of Clarissa Byram Thompson of Mendham
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.
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.