Theodosia Burr (Mrs. Joseph Alston)

Artist: unknown
Date: ca. 1811

The daughter of Aaron Burr, as a child Theodosia studied both Latin and Greek as well as the sciences, history and literature, which was unusual for young women at the time. In 1801 she married Joseph Alston (later Governor of South Carolina) and aided her father during his trial. Her frail health was damaged further by her grief over the death of her only son. In December, 1812, she embarked on a boat for New York which never arrived, and she was presumed dead.

The enamel is a copy, which Aaron Burr seems to have commissioned while in Paris in 1811, of John Vanderlyn's 1801 portrait now at Yale University. The enamel follows the original oil, with a slight tendency to exaggerate and harshen certain features such as her nose, curls and the lines of her dress. The profile is striking and, in its enamel form, almost reminiscent of a classical cameo.


This text is adapted from Martha Severens "The Miniature Portrait Collection of the Carolina Art Association" published by the Carolina Art Association, 1984

  • Medium: Enamel
  • Support: Ivory
  • Dimensions: 2 5/8 X 2 1/4 Inches
  • Sitter's Dates: 1783-1812
  • Credit: Gift of Mrs. Richard Breckinridge and Colonel William L. Breckinridge
  • Period: 19th century
  • Accession Number: 1963.026
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