Samuel Wilson (1763-1827)

By Artist unknown (possibly Samuel Morse), date unknown, | Oil on canvas, 43 x 37.5

Samuel Wilson was born in Charleston to the Scottish physician Robert Wilson (1736-1815) who emigrated from Scotland to Charleston in 1755. Samuel Wilson attended the Medical School at Edinburgh for two years, but graduated from the medical school at Glasgow. Arriving back in Charleston in 1786 he practiced medicine with Alexander Baron and his own father, brother, and son. In 1801 he was elected president of the Medical Society of South Carolina. Later, when the Medical College of South Carolina was established he was chosen to be the first chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Gift of Robert Wilson of Rock Hill, SC

Conservation Needs:

Proposed treatment includes removing grime and old varnish, making repairs to damaged canvas in lower left quadrant, consolidating areas of lifting or fragile paint, reducing distortion, and revarnishing.

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

Donate to preserve the Samuel 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.