"T" is for Theus, Jeremiah [1716-1774]

Aug 26, 2020

Credit SC Public Radio

"T" is for Theus, Jeremiah [1716-1774]. Portrait Painter. Theus was born in Switzerland and immigrated to Orangeburg District in 1735. Five years later, he moved to Charleston and advertised his services as a limner (portraitist) and sign painter. Despite his lack of formal training, Theus modeled his likenesses after fashionable English portraits of the day. The large majority of his portraits are half-lengths with sitters standing erect and shown without their hands. While the men wear sober street clothes, women are dressed in great finery of lace, fabric, pearls, and even ermine. His most ambitious portraits are the three-quarter-length portrayals of Colonel and Mrs. Barnard Elliott and Mrs. Peter Manigault. Over a career that exceeded three decades, Jeremiah Theus created a veritable social register of Charleston’s merchants, plantation owners, and their wives and children.