Theodore Sidney Moïse

222 (today 234) King Street.

A portrait painter

Theodore Sidney Moïse, born 1808, was the son of Cecilia Frances Woolf (1789–1871) and Hyam Moïse (1785–1811), who were married in Charleston in 1807. As a child, Hyam Moïse had fled Saint-Domingue (Haiti) with his refugee parents; his siblings Abraham Moïse II and Penina Moïse were born in Charleston. T. S. Moïse showed artistic talent early, but as a young man he worked as an accountant in a cotton brokerage. In 1834, he offered his service as a portrait painter on Edisto Island and, the following year, opened his first studio in Charleston. Despite an emerging reputation as a portrait and animal painter—his portrait commissions during his brief professional career in the city included Mordecai CohenIsaiah Moses, and Isabel Rebecca Lyons Mordecai—he depended for a living on cleaning and repairing old paintings and executing ornamental penmanship “for Ladies Albums.” In 1836, Theodore S. Moïse married Cecilia Frances Moses, and they moved to Mississippi with his brother, Edwin Warren Moïse, and sister-in-law, Priscilla Lopez Moïse.

In the early 1840s the families settled in New Orleans, where T. S. Moïse made his living as a studio artist and “resident itinerant,” building a clientele among the rich and powerful, including plantation owners, politicians, legislators, governors, and judges. He painted prominent men such as Senator Henry Clay and General Andrew Jackson—Clay’s portrait is now owned by New York City’s Metropolitan Museum; Jackson’s is in the Old City Hall in New Orleans. When his wife, Cecilia, died in 1844, Moïse returned his daughter, Theodora Sidney, to Charleston to be raised by Cecilia’s sister, Caroline Moses Moïse, and her husband Abraham Moïse, T. S. Moïse’s uncle. In December 1845, Moïse married a second time, to twenty-year-old Matilda Vaughn, a devout Catholic from a New England family, who bore him nine children in nine years. Moïse died in Louisiana in 1885 but it is thought that his body was returned to South Carolina for burial.