Trouche Family Mystery

IMG_2246This painting is, according to family history, a portrait of my great-great-great-great grandfather and his young son. We know the son’s name was Auguste Paul Trouche, and that he lived from 1803-1846, but sadly, there is

complete mystery as to the older Mr. Trouche’s name and life. According to family stories, the Trouche family arrived in Charleston about 1792, as French immigrants fleeing the uprisings in Saint Domingue in the aftermath of the French Revolution. There is no record of anyone in the city by that name until 1806, when the city directory lists a “Madame Trouche” as a refugee. Perhaps she survived the uprising with her infant son, and Mr. Trouche died in Saint Domingue.

Auguste would become a skilled artists, whose work is still displayed in the Gibbes Museum of Art. According to one of the past museum directors, the artistic skill of Auguste was unlikely to have been learned in Charleston at the time, and the style of his oil landscapes on canvas was very much in vogue in early 19th-century Paris.

This makes me wonder whether the family may have been separated by the events in the Caribbean, and that perhaps Auguste and his father returned to France and the younger man came to America later. There is also the possibility that Auguste’s age is recorded wrong, because the painting seems to be late 18th century with Mr. Trouche’s powdered whig. Another peculiar fact is that when Madam Trouche died in 1843, she was 86 years old, which, if Auguste was really born in 1803, means she would have given birth to him when she was 46 years old, which was very unusual in those days.

Quel mystere!

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