Mary Roberts (painter)

Mary Roberts (died 1761) was an American miniaturist swift in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1740s and 1750s. One of the antediluvian American miniaturists, and the first woman recorded as functional in the medium in the American colonies, she is along with believed to have painted the first watercolor-on-ivory miniature in the colonies.

Almost nothing is known very nearly Roberts' life; what little may be gleaned roughly her comes from advertisements run in the South Carolina Gazette and from the wills of her contemporaries. She was the wife of painter Bishop Roberts, who first advertised his services in the Gazette in 1735, and again two years later. He claimed to be dexterous to paint portraits, landscapes, and heraldry; to have enough money drawings for sale; to paint houses; and to print engravings as well. He is best remembered for a view of Charleston which was engraved by W. H. Toms in 1739. Roberts died quickly in 1740, in which year his wife's reveal appeared in newspaper notices for the first time. She provided a announcement to the Gazette on her husband's death, further offering to provide "Face Painting capably performed by the said Mary Roberts, who has several Pictures and a Printing-Press to dispose of"; no other written evidence exists to appear in that she worked as a miniaturist. In 1746 she another time offered the printing press for sale. That she was continually burden financial difficulties after her husband's death may be inferred from the will of one William Watkins, who on his death in 1747 left her fifty pounds for the maintain of her son. Upon the death of a friend in 1750 she expected a bequest of clothing and furniture. Roberts herself died in 1761, and her burial is recorded in the register of St. Philip's Episcopal Church on October 24 of that year.

Only three miniatures by Roberts were currently known to exist until fairly recently; none is signed once her full name, but each is inscribed "MR". All are undated, but based upon the styles of the clothing and wigs depicted are believed to date from the 1740s. The technique is assured plenty to suggest that Roberts had some sort of formal training in painting prior to arriving in Charleston. At least one of the portraits, a watercolor on ivory rendering of a Woman of the Gibbes or Shoolbred Family, still exists in its native frame of gold set afterward garnets. This work descended through the Gibbes and Shoolbred families since coming to the Gibbes Museum of Art.

In 2006, five watercolor upon ivory miniatures of children, a bureau of cousins from the Middleton family, were found at Shrublands (the family home in England) and purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2007. Each one trial 1 1/2 x 1 in. (3.8 x 2.5 cm) and is in its native gold lawsuit and signed MR and was painted not far-off off from 1752 -1758. The portrait of Henrietta Middleton is on display at the museum.

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