Collections › MESDA Collection › Elizabeth (Paisley) Gibson

Elizabeth (Paisley) 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: History: Elizabeth Paisley was born April 17, 1785 in Guilford County, North Carolina. Her father was Col. John Paisley and her mother was Mary Ann Denny. She married Moses Gibson (Feb. 9, 1783 – Dec. 8, 1957) on February 15, 1810 in Guilford County. Together they had six children: Elizabeth Ann, John Paisley, Andrew Fin, Joseph Washington, Lemuel Newton and Anna Jane. The Gibsons lived in Guilford County until 1841, when they moved west, ultimately settling in what is today Benton County, MS. Elizabeth Paisley Gibson died on August 13, 1846, and is buried in the family cemetery in Benton County, Mississippi.

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 Paisley Gibson, 1827. Likeness of a woman facing forward, wearing a black dress with a large flared white collar, a white bonnet with dark ribbon and a red bead necklace. She is seated in a painted armchair with scrolled armrest, holding an open book in her left hand with her right hand underneath a light green handkerchief. Behind the figure is a light blue background with flanking floral vines with flowers above a dark blue marbleized panel. There is a small round pedestal table to the figure’s proper left. Below the figure, in a painted light blue frame ornamented by a leafy vine and large pink blossom, the sitter’s name and date are inscribed in block letters: ELIZABETH * GIBSON / 1827. The name plate is framed by a green, black and red marbleized panel. 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.