The French tradition of miniature painting was transported to American soil by artists who traveled abroad to study in Paris, as well as, by a small but significant group of emigrant, itinerant artists who arrived in America from Europe in the early nineteenth century. These artists often traveled between the major American port cities, including Charleston, New Orleans, Baltimore, Boston, and New York, seeking patrons. Louis Antoine Collas, a native of Bordeaux, France, was active in Charleston 1816-17.
Thomas Alston grew up on family plantations along the Waccamaw River and died at age twenty-nine at Red Sulphur Springs, VA. Collas has placed young Alston against a rustic landscape, perhaps to indicate the life of a planter. The face is sensitively drawn and successfully modelled.
This text is adapted from Martha Severens "The Miniature Portrait Collection of the Carolina Art Association" published by the Carolina Art Association, 1984