Educated at Westminster School and Christ Church College, Oxford, Pinckney studied law at the Middle Temple. Upon his return to South Carolina, he was admitted to the Bar in 1774 and joined the First South Carolina Regiment. During the Revolution he was assigned various tasks, including drilling, recruitment and engineering work on fortifications. He fought in several battles, and was wounded at Camden. Between 1787 - 1789 he was Governor of South Carolina; from 1792 - 1796 he was United States Minister to Great Britain; and in 1795 Special Envoy to Spain. During the War of 1812 he was commissioned Major General and was placed in charge of the Southeast. As a Low Country planter, he was a supporter of scientific agriculture and he encouraged crop diversification.
Fraser's portrait closely resembles an oil by Samuel F.B. Morse, except that the miniature is limited to a bust length. In 1818, the year Fraser painted the miniature, Morse spent the first of four winters in Charleston in pursuit of portrait commissions. Morse and Fraser would later become active in the founding and exhibitions of the South Carolina Academy of Fine Arts. In his version, Fraser has eliminated some of Morse's spontaneous and painterly qualities and has made Pinckney appear more vigorous. It is the fourth miniature listed in the account book, for which Fraser received $100, an unusually high sum.
This text is adapted from Martha Severens "The Miniature Portrait Collection of the Carolina Art Association" published by the Carolina Art Association, 1984