Art in the Archives: Margaret Bremond Rice

Patrons visiting the Woodson Research Center reading room often comment on the portrait of Margaret Bremond Rice, first wife of Rice Institute founder William Marsh Rice.  We know very little about her, apart from her obituary notice in the Houston Telegraph. Bremond was the eldest daughter of Paul Bremond, one of the founders of the Houston and Texas Central Railway; she married when she was 18 and Rice a successful businessman of 34.

Margaret Rice was known for her charitable work in Houston. She attended the sick during the city’s many epidemics of yellow fever and cholera, and was active in war relief efforts for the families of soldiers during the Civil War. She died in 1863 at 31 of unknown causes.

The portrait is oil on canvas, the artist and the date unknown.  It was offered to the Rice Institute by a descendant of the Bremond family in 1947, and received in 1948. The painting is described as follows:

She is dressed in a lace-edged robe de style of bronzed green velvet, a Paisley shawl in dark orange thrown across her right arm.  She wears a cameo and matching earrings of a classical temple.

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