The Artist:
Thomas Wightman

A native son of Charleston, South Carolina, Thomas Wightman is best known for his portrait and still life paintings. Exhibiting first with the National Academy of Design in 1836, his work was well received. As a result, in 1849 he was elected as an associate member of the Academy. Until 1841 Wightman lived in his native Charleston; however, in June of that year he left the lowcountry to complete his studies in New York.1

Studying under the celebrated portrait artist Henry Inman, Wightman's style was influenced considerably by his mentor. Aside from Wightman's portraiture work, he also became well known for his still life paintings, often becoming decorative panels in many of Charleston's finest mansions. His richly colored still life paintings involve intricate detail. The form, texture, and luminosity of each piece of fruit convey a bountiful arrangement.2

Charleston's Courier in 1841 describes Wightman just prior to his trip to New York to complete his studies. Commenting on his promise as an artist, the article stated that Wightman's studio was "adorned with a number of excellent portraits, the creations of his young but tasteful pencil." The article further stated that," . . . his drapery is uncommonly rich and beautiful." Wightman was described as a "highly promising pupil" of Henry Inman.3

Wightman's affinity for the ambience of the South Carolina lowcountry would carry him back to the area at the outbreak of the War Between the States. His return to Charleston twenty years after leaving his home marks the last known record of his activities.4

Biography by Rob Hicklin, founder and principal owner of Charleston Renaissance Gallery and recognized authority on Southern art (sources).

Portraits by artist:
H. A. C. Walker
-Matilda Williams Wightman (I)
-Matilda Williams Wightman (II)
-William Wightman's Daugther
-William May Wightman (Leonard Auditorium)
-William May Wightman (President's Home)
-William Wightman, Sr.

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