A popular exhibit at the Old Capitol Museum will soon receive a new addition. On March 9 at 2:30 p.m. the family of Elise Winter, first lady of Mississippi 1980-84, will present her portrait for inclusion in the First Ladies Gallery. President of the MDAH board of trustees Kane Ditto, Museum Division director Lucy Allen, portrait artist Jason Bouldin, and author and editor JoAnne Prichard Morris will speak, and Elise Winter will offer closing remarks following the portrait unveiling. The public is invited to attend the ceremony and reception that will follow.
Fourteen portraits are on display in the gallery, located on the third floor near the Hall of Fame paintings in the Senate Gallery. Portraits range from formal oil paintings to large studio photographs to photographs of portraits in oil. Noted Jackson artist Karl Wolfe painted a full-length portrait of Carroll Waller, first lady from 1972 to 1976, and a seated portrait of Pearl Barnett, first lady from 1960 to 1964. Kathy Buchanan, a Mississippi artist who has portraits in the Hall of Fame collection as well, painted a portrait of Margaret Janet Dennis Coleman, first lady from 1956 to 1960. The portrait of Elise Winter is the first in the gallery by Jason Bouldin, but the artist painted the portrait of Governor William Winter that hangs in the lobby of the William F. Winter Archives and History Building in Jackson.
Although many of the paintings are decades old—the oldest is of Mildred Maury Humphreys, whose husband Benjamin G. Humphreys served as governor 1865-68—they have been on permanent display to the public only since the Old Capitol was restored and reopened in 2009. Before that some of the portraits had been the subject of a special exhibition at the Old Capitol in 1995, and a few had been hung in a public area of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion during the 1970s and ‘80s.
Representative Rita Martinson is a longtime proponent of a permanent space for the First Ladies Gallery and championed the idea when the Old Capitol restoration was being planned. “I’m delighted to see this collection grow with another donation,” said Martinson. “This important group of paintings has found such an appropriate home in the Old Capitol, and I hope everyone will come and enjoy them.”
All the portraits in the gallery have been donated to MDAH and are paid for with private funds, often by the families of the first lady. There are not portraits for all first ladies. For more information call the Old Capitol Museum at 601-576-6920 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.