National Society of Colonial Dames of
America in Tennessee

Out of State
Portrait #1830

Angel Portrait - Alabama book
enlarge image
Hamilton, Mrs. John Bell (Sarah Ann Alderson), her deceased daughter and grandson, and an angel
Artist: Cooper, William Brown
Date Created: 1853
Owner/Location: Private Collection
Frame Dimensions: 58 x 52
Image Dimensions: 48 x 42
Materials/Media: Oil on Canvas
Date Documented: 10 June 2010
Condition: Excellent
Portrait documented - Alabama Portraits Prior to 1870, complied by the Colonial Dames in the State of Alabama, published in 1969. 

Description: Mother shown in black dress, white cap, grieving over lifeless forms of young woman with newborn baby. Angel, blue eyes and fair hair, points way upward to crown of eternal life shedding radiance.
History of Work:In 1851 seventeen-year-old Izora Chillones Hamilton of Columbia, TN married Mr. William Bradshaw Wilson. Her parents, The Rev. and Mrs. John Bell Hamilton (Sarah Ann Alderson) commissioned a portrait by William Brown Cooper in honor of the marriage. In 1853 Izora died in childbirth and her infant son lived only twelve hours. Mother and baby were the first to be buried, together, in Rose Hill Cemetery.

Izora's parents commissioned a second but most singular portrait from the same artist. At some time during the Civil War the painting was damaged by a Union bullet hole; that damage was repaired when the painting was restored in the mid-1980s. The painting remained in the Hamilton home (now known as Kennedy Place), inherited by the Hamiltons' nephew and adopted son, Thomas Hamilton Williams (who was first cousin of Izora), then his daughters Irene and Carrie Williams, then their niece Emily Irene Williams Cater, then her son, Howard Williams Cater, Jr..
Notes: The motif of the angel was popularized by Daniel Huntington's allegorical painting of "Mercy's Dream" of 1841, based on a vignette in part 2 of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. It was said in the family that Mrs. Hamilton drew great comfort from that painting and would sit with it for hours.