Payne Limner

Ann Spotswood Payne’s Portrait Returns to the Museum!

(The conserved portrait will be unveiled at our September 17th Annual Meeting. The portrait below is how she looked before any restoration and preservation efforts were made.)

It’s been almost two years since the portrait of Ann Spotswood Payne left and journeyed to the University of Delaware’s Art Conservation Program at Winterthur (another DuPont mansion). Getting this portrait the attention it needed took some time. After several large Virginia museums expressed their inability to accept a conservation project at the time, the James Madison Museum applied for a grant through “Save Our Virginia Artifacts” in early 2015. Through that program, an offer to look at the portrait came from the DeWitt Wallace Museum in Williamsburg. There was a flurry of excitement once the portrait was unwrapped at the DW; it was "the missing portrait!" Apparently no one in the colonial art profession was aware that the missing Payne Limner portrait was not actually missing - it was in Orange, Virginia. Through the aid of the DW, Dr. Joyce Stoner at UD/Winterthur accepted the portrait into the Master Art Restoration/Conservation program.


Enough praise cannot be offered about the dedication and skill of the University’s master program, the students, and Dr. Joyce Stoner who leads the program. They have brought Ann back to life and in a condition that should see her through another 200 years.


What is the Payne Limner? There were ten portraits painted of the Payne family in the early 1790’s; however, the artist’s name is unknown. The term “limner” means drawings or paintings, usually by an itinerant painter with little formal training. The painter of the Payne portraits as a distinctive style, making his work distinguishable from others.

How did the Museum obtain the painting? The painting was owned by Katherine (“Kitty”) Shiflett, a native of Orange, Virginia who attended Calvary Baptist Church and worked at the American Silk Mill until her retirement. Upon her death on Jun 8, 1999, her estate donated the painting to the museum. We’re not certain how Mrs. Shiflett

Who was Ann Spotswood Payne-Fleming? She was born in 1772 to Archibald Payne (1748-1831) and Martha Spotswood Dandridge Payne (1748-1791) of Goochland County, Virginia. Ann was born into two prominent Virginia families; the Spotswood’s and the Payne’s. Her paternal grandfather, Colonel John Payne (1713-1784), was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses (1752-1768). Her paternal grandmother, Martha Payne, was the granddaughter of Governor Alexander Spotswood, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and a descendant of King Robert II of Scotland.

Ann married Thomas Mann Fleming (1767-1800) of the Tarlton-Fleming’s of Goochland County on April 1, 1791. They named their children Martha Dandridge, Mary Page, Ann Spotswood and Tarlton.

We hope you’ll visit soon to see this wonderful portrait now that she's been brought back to life and back to her original beauty.