"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Severn Teackle Wallis

This 1903 statue of Severn Teackle Wallis by Laurent-Honoré Marqueste stands in the East Square of Mt. Vernon Square in Baltimore Maryland. The statue originally stood in front of the Walters Art Gallery but was displaced by the statue of Lafayette. 


The Walters Art Museum has this 16 inch tall plaster cast of the statue by Laurent-Honoré Marqueste:

Acquired by William T. or Henry Walters

 The Walters gives this capsule description of Severn Teackle Wallis.
One of the premiere lawyers of his generation, Severn Teackle Wallis was elected to the Maryland Legislature in 1861, where he proceeded to lead a faction of politicians opposed to the Civil War. The Federal Government, under the direction of Lincoln, imprisoned Mr. Wallis for his transgressions.
Severn Teackle Wallis
⸳1816⸳                                                    ⸳1894⸳

Appleton's Encylopædia, 1889, gives a longer biography of Wallis along with this sketch.

The 1896 painting below by Thomas Cromwell Corner in the Museum of The Maryland Center for History and Culture is dated almost a decade later than the Encyclopedia illustration which it closely resembles. 

The Center gives this short bio of Severn Teackle Wallis and answers the question we're all asking, “How are Severn Teackle Wallis and Wallis Simpson related?”

...Wallis was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and attended St. Mary's College (Baltimore), graduating in 1832. He went on to study law and passed the bar exam in 1837. Wallis developed a special interest in history and literature, particularly from Spain. Proficient in the Spanish language, in 1849 he was sent by the U.S. Government to Spain to study the original land titles of what became the state of Florida. Throughout his life, he wrote numerous periodicals and pamphlets on Spain, history, and was a frequent contributor to the "Baltimore Exchange" newspaper. In 1861, he was elected to the House of Delegates in the Maryland General Assembly. Initially a member of the Whig party, he became a Democrat by the Civil War and was opposed to the war as well as secession. Wallis was one of several Maryland legislators that were arrested for refusing to take an oath supporting the union. He was imprisoned at Fort McHenry from September 1861 to November 1862, never charged, and never told why he imprisoned. A fellow prisoner, Henry Mactier Warfield, later named his youngest son, Teackle Wallis Warfield, in honor of his friend. The son later named his daughter Bessie Wallis Warfield, better known as Wallis Simpson, who went on to become the Duchess of Windsor. Upon his release, he left politics and returned to private practice. Wallis is memorialized as a statue near the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon and at the Circuit Court of Baltimore City. He is buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore. 

Wallis was a founding member of the Maryland Historical Society which has become the Maryland Center for History and Culture. 

The corner of St. Paul Street and East Monument Street.

Wallis was not only a well known orator and the author of three books about Spain, he wrote a biography of George Peabody and a variety of poems. Perhaps his best known poem is “The Blessed Hand” which he wrote for the Southern Relief Fair in 1865.  

Severn Teackle Wallis died on April 11, 1894 and on the 14th the Washington Post reported his funeral on the front page.

Mr. Wallis’ Funeral

Great Concourse of Lawyers and Eminent Citizens in Attendance.

Baltimore, April 13. – The funeral of Hon. Severn Teackle Wallis was one of the largest that has taken place here in recent years. It was attended by all the members of the bench and bar of Baltimore, and many prominent out of town lawyers. The trustees of the Peabody Institute, the regents of the University of Maryland, and faculties of law and medicine of the schools connected with that institution, the Maryland Historical Society and the Athenaeum Club attended in a body, and nearly all the more prominent people in the official, social, and intellectual life of the city were present. The interment was made in Greenmount cemetery.

The business of the court was entirely suspended to-day out of honor to Mr. Wallis’ memory. At noon a memorial meeting of the Supreme bench and the members of the bar was held in the Superior Court room, at which eulogies were delivered on the life and character of the eminent jurist.

His headstone is in Greenmount Cemetery.

Severn Teackle Wallis
Son of
Philip and Elizabeth C. Wallis
September 8th 1816
April 11th 1894
(Photo by gravemarker,  July 17, 2010; 

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