Conservation provided by the Medical Society of South Carolina.

Thomas Roper (1760-1829)

By Artist unknown, | Oil on panel, 36 x 31

Thomas Roper was born in 1760 in Charleston. He was elected city intendant (mayor) and later served as a commissioner for the city’s Poor House. He was known as a Colonel for his service in the 29th SC Militia, whose uniform he is wearing in this portrait.

Col. Roper lost his first wife in childbirth and was pre-deceased by all but one of his ten children. When Colonel Roper himself died in 1829, he left most of his estate to his remaining child Robert William Roper, under the condition that should Robert die without issue, that the estate would be used by the Medical Society “to erect, maintain, and regulate a hospital of such dimensions as they in their better judgement [sic] may direct, for the permanent reception or occasional relief of all such sick, maimed and diseased paupers as need surgical or medical aid, ... without regard to complexion, religion, or nation.”

When his sole surviving child, Robert Roper died in 1845, without issue, the terms of Colonel Roper’s will were honored.

Conservation Needs:

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

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


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.