Collections › MESDA Collection › Mary Washington (Snickers) Hunter

Mary Washington (Snickers) Hunter

Cezeron, Francis __Attributed to
Place Made:
Jefferson County Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
oil paint –poplar
HOA: 8 3/4; WOA: 7 1/2
Accession Number:
SITTER: Mary Washington (Snickers) Hunter (1794-1840) was the daughter of William Snickers and Frances (Washington) Snickers of Clermont, Frederick County, Virginia. (Now located in Clarke County, Virginia) She married Moses Theodoric Hunter (1791-1829) in 1812, probably about the time this portrait was painted.

ARTIST: Francis Cezeron was an itinerant portrait artist as well as a teacher of dancing and French. Born in Virginia in 1747, the MESDA Craftsman Database has documented his advertisements in Frederick, Maryland, Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Hagerstown, Maryland. He also worked in western Pennsylvania. He died in 1828 in Kentucky. Cezeron followed a standard formula for most of his portraits, depicting sitters in half-length profile in an oval frame.

INSCRIPTION: On the reverse of the support there is an inscription that has been recorded as “Jefferson City/ Va.” This probably refers to Jefferson County, Virginia, where the portrait may have been done.

RELATED OBJECTS: The MESDA Collection includes five paintings from “Piedmont”, the house built between 1786-1890 for Dr. John Briscoe, Jr. (1752-1818), and Eleanor (Magruder) Briscoe (b.1766). These include portraits of Dr. and Mrs. Briscoe by John Drinker (1760-1826) (MESDA acc. 973.1-2); a portrait of Sarah D. Rutherford by Drinker (MESDA acc. 973.3?); and a portrait of General William Darke (1736-1801), by Frederick Kemmelmeyer (1760-1821) (MESDA acc. 973.3). The collection also includes another work by Cezeron, a portrait of John Jameson (MESDA acc. 3229.1)

DESCRIPTION: Painting of young woman, facing full left with body half left, wearing classical brown hairstyle, earring, high-waisted classical white dress. Painted on brown oval background. Gold frame with oval insert.

REFERENCES: Kate Hughes, “Piedmont’s Portraits: Patrician Image-Making in the Lower Shenandoah Valley”, MESDA Summer Institute 2017.

Descended at Piedmont, the Briscoe Family home, in Berkeley County, Virginia. According to the family, the sitter in this painting was always referred to as “Miss Hunter.” Research conducted by Kate Hughes during the 2017 MESDA Summer Institute suggests that “Miss Hunter” is actually Mary Washington (Snickers) Hunter (1794-1840). Mary, and her husband Moses Theodoric Hunter (1791-1829) had ten children. Unfortunately four died in infancy and five never married. The one daughter who did marry left Virginia for Louisiana. The Hunter and Briscoe families were closely connected and it is now thought that the portrait of Miss Hunter eventually found its way to Piedmont.
Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton