Robert Wilson (1736-1815)

By John Stolle, | Oil on canvas, 31 x 27

Robert Wilson was born in 1736 in Scotland. After graduating from medical school in Edinburgh in 1794, he proceeded to London and from there embarked for Charleston, S.C., where he practiced medicine and served as a druggist.

Later he practiced medicine with Alexander Baron and his son Samuel Wilson. Dr. Wilson was active in the First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, the St. Andrews Society, and the Masonic Grand Lodge. He was president of the Medical Society of South Carolina.

In 1791, a scant two years after the Medical Society was established, he and his son Samuel gifted the first eleven books to the Society to start its library, the nucleus of today’s Waring Historical Library.

On loan from the Medical Society of South Carolina

Conservation Needs:

Proposed treatment includes removing grime and discolored varnish, consolidating areas of lifting or fragile paint, filling losses (as needed), reducing canvas distortion, revarnishing surface, and proper reframing.

Frame requires repair and cleaning, filling and consolidation of gesso, removal of overpaint, and surface toning.

Donate to preserve the Robert Wilson portrait »


The goal for the project is $150,000 which will pay for all the work to conserve these visual treasures. The cost for each portrait’s conservation ranges from $1,200 to $15,000.

This cost includes the conservation/ treatment report, conservation of the canvas and frame, and any costs associated with the treatment such as curatorial research and documentation, photography, transportation, and insurance.

Donor Recognition

Donors who adopt a portrait will receive named recognition during the portraits absence in the form of a sign reading, “Portrait being conserved through the generous support of [your name].”

When the portrait is returned a celebratory reception will be held at which the donor will be honored for his or her support of the project. Finally, the finished portrait will be reinstalled in the Waring with a permanent sign reading, “This portrait was conserved in [year] by the generous support of [your name].”

As a thank you gift, donors will be offered a reproduction of their “adopted” portrait, printed on canvas and suitable for framing.

Project Kick-Off

In order to kick-start the project, the WLS sent the portrait of Alexander Baron off for conservation.

Dr. Baron was selected for two reasons: first, the sitter, Dr. Baron, was a founding member of the Medical Society of South Carolina, whose generous support of the Waring has enabled us to conserve and digitize numerous items from the collection.

Second, the artist of the portrait was Samuel B. Morse, whose portraiture career in Charleston included painting the city’s leaders.