A graduate of South Carolina College, Gilchrist studied law in the office of Keating Simons, and later practiced as a partner of John S. Cogdell, his brother-in-law. Between 1831 and 1839 he served as district attorney for South Carolina and then became a judge for seventeen years in the district court of South Carolina. Appropriate to Gilchrist's position as a judge, Fraser has depicted him with books. The columnwhich Fraser had used in his Self-Portrait of 1823recurs most frequently in portraits of distinguished lawyers and may be Fraser's way of paying respect to his former profession. Like other portraits of the 1840s, there is a sense of remoteness, derived in part from the fact that the sitter is placed back, away from the frontal picture plane. The account book records for 1841 "Judge Gilchrist . . . $45."
This text is adapted from Martha Severens "The Miniature Portrait Collection of the Carolina Art Association" published by the Carolina Art Association, 1984