Samuel Henry Dickson (1798-1872)

By Alicia Rhett (1915-2014), 1986 | Oil on canvas, 38 x 33

Samuel H. Dickson was born in Charleston in 1798 and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1819. Dr. Dickson was a strong advocate for the establishment of the Medical College of South Carolina of which he was a founding faculty member and later dean from 1833-34 and 1839.

After a brief sojourn in New York City, where he served as the chair of practice at NYU from 1847 to 1850, he returned to Charleston.

In 1857 he went to Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia where he remained until his death in 1872. His Practice of Medicine was a textbook used by medical students for many years.

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 Samuel Henry Dickson 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.