Conservation provided by Dr. Patricia L. Blanton.

Francis LeJau Parker (1836-1913)

By Artist unknown, date unknown, | Gelatin silver photograph with airbrush and pencil, 25 ½ x 22

Francis LeJau Parker was born in 1836 in Abbeville, South Carolina. In 1855 he graduated from the Medical College of the State of South Carolina where he studied under his uncle and the dean of the college, Dr. Henry R. Frost. He served as a house physician at Roper Hospital before joining the Medical College faculty as an anatomy demonstrator in 1859.

After the Civil War, in which he served as a surgeon in the Confederate Army, he returned to his position at the Medical College and rose to the rank of professor of anatomy. He also maintained a private practice in diseases of the eye and ear. In 1891 he was elected dean of the Medical College, a position he held until his retirement in 1906.

He was active in professional organizations, serving as president of the Medical Society of South Carolina and the South Carolina Medical Association. He also contributed to medical literature both as an author for many publications and as editor of the Charleston Medical and Surgical Journal. A renowned surgeon, he is credited with being the first to suture a nerve.

Conservation Needs:

Proposed treatment includes surface cleaning, after which the photograph will be mounted to an archival 4-ply 100% cotton board to stabilize. A quality reproduction of the photograph will be made for the frame, and the original will be stored for posterity.

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.