Mrs. John Hill Wheeler and Her Two Sons, 1844
Signed with the artist's monogram TS and dated 1844 (lr)
Oil on canvas
51 x 61 3/4 inches
Mrs. John Hill Wheeler, Washington, DC (died 1896)
Her son, Charles Sully Wheeler (died after 1913)
His son, William D. Wheeler, Washington, DC, by 1924
His cousins (the grandchildren of Woodbury Wheeler), Clara Smallen and Captain John R. Brasel, U.S.N.R., by 1960
Gift of Captain John R. Brasel, U.S.N.R. to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1967
Thomas Sully, register, Dreer Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, lists the portrait as begun July 3 and finished July 25, 1844
Charles Henry Hart, A Register of Portraits Painted by Thomas Sully, Philadelphia, 1909, p. 178, no. 1848
Edward Biddle and Mantle Fielding, The Life and Works of Thomas Sully (1783-1872), Philadelphia: Wickersham Press, 1921, p. 317, no. 1959
John Caldwell and Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque, American Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Volume I: A Catalogue of Works by Artists Born by 1815, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994, pp. 357-359, illus p. 358
This tender portrait of a young mother with her two little boys is especially significant in Sully's oeuvre in that it depicts the artist's own daughter, Ellen Oldmixon Sully (1816-1896) with her two sons, Charles Sully Wheeler (b. 1839) and Levi Woodbury Wheeler (1842-1900). Ellen had married John H. Wheeler, a well-known North Carolina lawyer, diplomat, and historian, on November 8th, 1838.
Sully commenced work on the painting on July 3, 1844, finishing it on July 25th. Here, Ellen Wheeler rests against a stone wall to the right, while her older son embraces her around the neck and her little boy sleeps against her legs.
C Property of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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