Mary Wilson, nee Mazyck, was born in 1775 to Isaac and Mary Mazyck III of South Carolina. On 1 April 1788, she married Dr. Samuel Wilson and died eight years later at 21, possibly from complications in childbirth. During her years of marriage, Mary and Samuel Wilson had five sons and one daughter.
The 1971 National Portrait Gallery exhibition on Benbridge posed that the portrait miniature on ivory of Mrs. Samuel Wilson (Mary Mazyck) included in the exhibition was probably painted after a Benbridge oil painting that was then unlocated. Accordingly, it is possible that the oil portrait illustrated here is the missing Benbridge likeness of Mary Wilson.
Born in Philadelphia in 1743, Henry Benbridge studied painting in Italy by the time he was 20. Although his work was well received in London in 1769, Benbridge nonetheless returned to Philadelphia the following year. With his marriage in 1771 to portrait miniaturist Letitia Sage, Benbridge moved to Charleston, South Carolina where he worked successfully as a portrait painter. Incarcerated during the Revolution by the occupying British forces, Benbridge appears again as a portrait artist and painting teacher in Norfolk, Virginia after 1800. The costume, life events and South Carolina origin of this sitter, however, suggest that Benbridge was painting in South Carolina again immediately following the turbulent years surrounding the American Revolution.
For a similar portrait of Mrs. Wilson and further information, see Robert G. Stewart, Henry Benbridge (1743-1812), American Portrait Painter (Washington, D.C., 1971), p. 78, fig. 126.