Mrs. Gabriel Manigault

Jeremiah Theus American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774

Portraits of the South Carolina Manigault family patriarch (28.126.1) and matriarch by Charleston’s leading 18th-century painter, the Swiss-born Jeremiah Theus, document two centuries of aristocratic privilege as well as the material afterlives of what made it possible. Son of a French Huguenot merchant, Manigault was considered the wealthiest man in colonial South Carolina, who supported the revolutionary cause with his private fortune derived from rice plantations run by slave-labor. He reportedly counted nearly 300 enslaved individuals as his property at one time. Ann Ashby Manigault, from another wealthy South Carolina planter family, is remembered for her journal documenting patrician life in 18th-century Charleston, including the sittings for the Theus portraits.

These works also hold a history of the family’s declining fortunes post-emancipation. In 1867, a descendant, Charles Izard Manigault, recorded how the paintings were defaced (see black-and-white images), likely after their removal to the family’s Silk Hope plantation for safe-keeping during the Civil War. Recent scholarship has proposed this deliberate disfigurement of the canvases as acts of iconoclasm and rebellion by formerly enslaved residents of Silk Hope.

Mrs. Gabriel Manigault, Jeremiah Theus (American, Chur, 1716–1774 Charleston, South Carolina), Oil on canvas, American

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.