Collections › MESDA Collection › Christopher Cart and
Susan Cart

Christopher Cart and
Susan Cart

Coram, Thomas
Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
oil on canvas
HOA: 48; WOA: 37 1/4
Accession Number:
SITTERS: Christopher Cart (d.1800) and his sister Susan Cart (d.1801) died within a year of one another, probably of diphtheria. Thomas Coram knew the Cart family and probably painted this portrait as a memorial. The children wear flowing, ethereal, white gowns. One child, probably Christopher, who died first, points towards a heavenly light while reaching out his hand to his sister. The children of John Cart (1761-1848) and Susannah Cart (1766-1824), their deaths are recorded in the records of St. Philips Church in Charleston.

ARTIST: Thomas Coram (1757-1811) emigrated from Bristol, England, to the colonies in 1769. He went into the mercantile business and joined with twelve other merchants and thirteen planters in an association “to discontinue the Importation of European and East-India Goods and Negroes into this Province.” After 1770 he became an engraver. In 1784 he advertised as a drawing master. An ardent supporter of the American Revolution, Coram engraved bills of credit for the State of South Carolina during the war. Coram was the first Charleston artist to use historical subjects; his most ambitious engraving is a three-part print called “The Battle of Fort Moultrie,” published in the 1780s. According to the city directories, Coram listed his profession as “engraver” until 1802. Thereafter he was listed as “painter and engraver.” He was instructed in oil painting by Henry Benbridge (1743-1812), another artist in Charleston. Coram is known for his portraits, as well as several small but intricate local landscapes. He was a benefactor of the Charleston Orphanage, to which he gave numerous works and money. Coram was buried in the cemetery of St. Philips Church in Charleston.

FRAME: This painting is still in its original frame; the stretcher and liner are likewise original.

RELATED OBJECTS: MESDA has another portrait by the artist, Ann (Coachman) Glover (MESDA acc. 2776.1). The Museum also has two examples of his engraving work: a masonic certificate (MESDA acc. 3540) and a 1779 £50 South Carolina Currency note (MESDA acc. 4603).

DESCRIPTION: Painting, oil on canvas, of two children: a girl seated and a boy standing to the right. The boy is looking at the girl and pointing with his left hand to the upper right corner of the painting. Both wear white dresses with blue sash and arm ribbons, red shoes. The girl wears a coral necklace. In the background are trees and a river. A sunburst is visible in the upper right corner of the painting.

Credit Line:
Given in memory of P. Huber Hanes, Jr.