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Elizabeth Ann Gibson

Guilford Limner
Place Made:
Guilford County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
watercolor on paper –ink
HOA 15-1/2″; WOA 13″
Accession Number:
SITTER: Elizabeth Ann Gibson was born April 17, 1811 in Guilford County, North Carolina, to parents Moses and Elizabeth Paisley Gibson. Her father, Moses Gibson, was a farmer, gold mine owner, and an elder in Bethel Presbyterian Church, located just west of present-day Gibsonville, NC, later named for his brother, Joseph Gibson. Eliza died on August 13, 1830 and is buried in the Gibsonville City Cemetery, where her gravestone is inscribed “IN MEMORY of the much BELOVED ELIZA ANN GIBSON.” Eliza’s family remained in Guilford County until 1841, when they moved west, ultimately settling in what is today Benton County, MS.

ARTIST: The “Guilford Limner” is the working name assigned to an unknown watercolor artist, most of whose attributed works were painted in Guilford County, North Carolina in 1826 and 1827. Typical features of the Guilford County likenesses include faces with large, luminous eyes with eyelashes, decorative architectural backgrounds, and sitter names and dates inscribed in block lettering. Later North Carolina portraits, probably painted between 1828 and 1832, are of subjects living in Mecklenburg, Iredell and Rutherford Counties. These differ from the Guilford County portraits in that they do not include decorative interiors or inscribed names, but do include a radiating background behind the figures.

In addition to the North Carolina portraits, nineteen examples of the Limner’s work have been identified with Kentucky histories from Breckenridge, Clark, Bourbon, Franklin, Green, Washington and Lincoln Counties, dated between 1818 and 1825, providing ample evidence that the artist worked in Kentucky before coming to North Carolina. Five South Carolina portraits are known, three of subjects from Union County (Spartanburg), and two from Fairfield County, the latter of which are dated 1832, confirming the Guilford Limner’s working dates from 1818-1832.

RELATED OBJECTS: MESDA has four portraits of the Gibson family by the Guilford Limner (MESDA cc. 5642.1-4). The collection also has two additional works by the Guilford Limner, portraits of Jacob Foust and Mary (Clapp) Foust (5753.1-2).

DESCRIPTION: Watercolor portrait of Elizabeth Ann Gibson, 1827. Likeness of a young woman facing forward wearing a blue dress with a white lace fan collar, a red plaid belt, blue beaded necklace, and tortoiseshell hair comb. She is holding an open book in her proper right hand with her left hand resting in her lap. She is seated in a painted armchair with scrolled armrest. A light blue sky-like background is behind her with flanking springs of leaves and pink roses on either side. Below the figure the sitter’s name and the date of the portrait are inscribed in block letters within a decorative frame. At the bottom of the sheet, below the likeness, the sitter’s age is penned in cursive script.

The four watercolor likenesses of Moses Gibson, his wife Elizabeth, and their two daughters Eliza Ann and Anny Jane remained in the family until they were placed on loan to MESDA, following their 2010 appearance on the Antiques Roadshow in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Credit Line:
Gift of Alice Fitzgibbon.