Collections › MESDA Collection › Lucinda Armistead (Gillies) Mutter

Lucinda Armistead (Gillies) Mutter

Artist/Maker:
Thompson, Cephas
Place Made:
Richmond Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
1809-1810
Medium:
oil on canvas
Dimensions:
HOA: 36″; WOA: 31″
Accession Number:
5859.2
Description:
One of a pair of portraits commissioned by John Moore Mütter (1782-1819) and Lucinda Armistead (Gillies) Mütter (1792-1814) for their home at 401 West Franklin Street in Richmond, Virginia. Lucinda’s portrait is among Thompson’s best. She holds a book atop a marble table and shows off a slender ring on her finger. Her clothing, particularly the diaphones lace falling across her upper chest, is very nicely rendered. Lucinda’s sidelong gaze is just as engaging as that of her husband, something that is not usually the case with Thompson’s pendant portraits.

SITTER: Lucinda Armistead Gillies (1792-1814), a descendant of both the Lee and Carter families. In 1807, at fifteen, she married John Moore Mütter, a prosperious Richmond merchant. Lucinda died in Maryland in 1814 following the birth of the couple’s second son.

ARTIST: The artist Cephas Thompson was born in Massachusetts in 1775. He spent the majority of his artistic career in the South. His “Memorandum of Portraits” in the Boston Athenaeum records 541 canvases, 333 of which were done in Virginia: 80 in Alexandria between 1807-1809; 149 in Richmond between 1809-1811; and 104 in Norfolk between 1811-1812. “Mr Mütter” and “Mrs Mütter” are recorded in the Memorandum between “Spotzwood Henry” and “Miss Abby Harison.”

The primary reference work on Cephas Thompson is Deborah L. Sisum’s article “‘A Most Favorable and Striking Resemblance’”: The Virginia Portraits of Cephas Thompson” published in the Summer 1997 Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts. (https://archive.org/details/journalofearlyso2311997muse) The article accompanied an exhibition of Thompson’s Virginia portraits at the Lyceum in Alexandria, Virginia. The Journal also published a transcription of the complete Memorandum and a biographical dictionary of Thompson’s Virginia sitters.

FRAME: The oak leaf carved frame with gilt liners is early, if not original, to the portrait.

History:
The portraits were commissioned by John Moore Mütter and his wife Lucinda Armistead (Gillies) Mütter from the artist in Richmond, Virginia. They descended in the Gillies family of Alexandria, Virginia and the Mutter family of Richmond, Virginia. Family owners included: Mrs. Fannie Macon, a sister of Ann Mütter, Richmond, Virginia; Miss Nora Macon, Richmond, Virginia; and Mr. and Mrs. Armistead Lloyd Boothe, of Alexandria, Virginia.
Credit Line:
Anne P. and Thomas A. Gray MESDA Purchase Fund