Maria Cecil Gist Gratz was the first wife of Benjamin Gratz. The couple lived in Lexington, Kentucky, but had their portraits painted by Thomas Sully in 1831 while on an extended visit to visit Benjamin’s Philadelphia relatives. They also had Sully paint a portrait of Benjamin’s sister Rebecca to bring back home with them.
The Rosenbach has owned the portraits of Benjamin and Rebecca for decades, thanks to the generosity of Benjamin’s granddaughter, Mrs. Henrietta Gratz Clay. This painting, donated by Maria Gratz’s great-great-great-granddaughter, was initially believed to be the companion to Benjamin’s portrait. However the subsequent discovery of a second, dated, portrait of Maria indicates that this painting is a later copy, also painted by Thomas Sully.
In addition to the oil portrait, the gift includes a pastel copy of the oil, and a chair that belonged to Benjamin Gratz.