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Agnes (Balderstone) Wyse

Place Made:
Richmond Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
oil paint –mahogany
HOA; 10 3/16″
WOA: 8 7/8″
Accession Number:
Sitter: Agnes( Balderstone) Wyse was born in 1741 to parents William Balderstone and Margaret Bow in Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland. In 1770, she married Ninnian Wyse (1742-1807), who was also from Falkirk. Ninnian was a stonemason and brickmaker, and by 1782, he and his family had migrated from Scotland to America and settled in Fauquier County, Virginia. Approximately ten years later the Wyse family sold their land in Fauquier County and moved to the new capitol city of Richmond, where this portait was painted.

Ninian’s early career is documented in letters from the Falmouth, Virginia merchant William Allason to Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia. Wyse worked on a building project for the governor in Fauquier County. After his move to Richmond, Wyse worked on several important building projects– bridges and armories –throughout Virginia, until he died accidentally in 1807. Ninian’s gravestone is at St. John’s Church in Richmond.

This small painting on mahogany panel in its original frame is a rare survival of artisan-class southern portraiture.

A label on the back of the painting reads “Agnes Wyse wife of Ninnian Wyse emigrated to America from Scotland 1745 settled in Fauquier Co. Va. Great Great grandmother of John H. Mackie.”

Agnes Wyse’s portrait descended in the Trower family to her great-great-grandson, John H. Mackie (1885-1908) of Richmond. Mackie and his parents, Thomas B. (1853-1912) and Mary F. (Trower) Mackie (1853-1926) are buried at Hollywood Cemetery. Mary was the daughter of Robert Trower (b. 1799) and the granddaughter of Mary (Wyse) Trower, Ninian and Agnes’s daughter. Mary Wyse married John Trower in Richmond in 1797. Trower was a carpenter documented in the MESDA Craftsman Database.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund