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  Gilbert Stuart  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Gilbert Stuart
 
 

Gilbert Stuart portrait miniature by Sarah Goodridge, 1825
 
 
Gilbert Stuart, in full Gilbert Charles Stuart (born December 3, 1755, Saunderstown, Rhode Island colony [now in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, U.S.]—died July 9, 1828, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.), American painter who was one of the great portrait painters of his era and the creator of a distinctively American portrait style.

Stuart grew up in Newport, Rhode Island, where he learned the rudiments of painting. In 1775 he went to London and entered the studio of the expatriate American artist Benjamin West, with whom he worked for about six years. His mature style owes more, however, to the work of Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds than to West. In 1782 Stuart opened his own London studio, and for five years he received portrait commissions from some of England’s most distinguished gentlemen. Despite this success, he fled to Dublin in 1787 to escape his creditors. After six years in Ireland he returned to the United States, where he quickly established himself as the nation’s leading portrait painter. He lived in New York City for a short time and moved to Philadelphia, where he lived for about 12 years. He finally settled in Boston in 1805.

Stuart’s work was hailed by his contemporaries, and modern critics have confirmed this judgment, praising his brushwork, luminous colour, and psychological penetration. Of his nearly 1,000 portraits, undoubtedly the most famous is the unfinished head of George Washington from 1796. Stuart produced more than 60 copies of this work at the time, and in 1869 the image began to appear on the one-dollar bill. The iconic status of this work was assured in 1932, when millions of prints were distributed to American classrooms as part of the bicentennial celebration of Washington’s birth. Other fine portraits by Stuart include those of Mrs. Richard Yates, Mrs. Perez Morton, Major General Henry Dearborn, and John Adams.

Although Stuart had no formal pupils, many young artists, including John Vanderlyn, Thomas Sully, and John Neagle, took advantage of the advice he freely gave. These artists were particularly impressed by Stuart’s working method: eschewing preliminary sketches, he painted his sitters faces directly onto the canvas or panel. Less talented artists, including his own daughter Jane, reduced his style to a formula that was reflected in much American portraiture of the succeeding generation.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 


Self Portrait, painted in 1778
 
 
 
 


The Skater, 1782, a portrait of William Grant
 
 


George Washington
 
 
 
 
 
 

American artist Benjamin West, 1783–84




English artist Joshua Reynolds, 1784


American artist John Trumbull, c. 1818




Horatio Gates, 1794




Peter Gansevoort, 1794




George Washington, 1795, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York




Lansdowne portrait of George Washington, 1797




George Washington, ca. 1805, Rhode Island School of Design Museum




George Washington At Dorchester Heights, 1806, Boston Museum of Fine Arts




George Washington, 1825, Walters Art Museum



The second First Lady of the United States, Abigail Adams, c. 1800–1815




Robert R. Livingston, diplomat and Founding Father, 1793–94





John Jay, 1794, First Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court




Anna Payne Cutts, sister of First Lady Dolley Madison, 1804, The White House




The fourth President of the United States, James Madison, 1804, Bowdoin College Museum of Art





Jérôme Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, 1804




The second President of the United States, John Adams (nearly 89), 1823





The third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, c. 1821, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC





The fourth President of the United States, James Madison, c. 1821




The fifth President of the United States, James Monroe





The sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, 1818, son of John and Abigail Adams




The sixth First Lady of the United States, Louisa Catherine Adams c. 1821–26, daughter-in law of John and Abigail Adams





Sir Robert Kingsmill, Admiral in Royal Navy during American and French Revolutionary Wars





United States Senator and Secretary of State Daniel Webster, 1825




George Calvert, politician and planter, 1804





Rosalie Stier Calvert, Belgian-born heiress and wife of George Calvert





Henry Rice, Boston merchant and Massachusetts state legislator, c. 1815






John Jones of Frankley held at the Birmingham Museum of Art





George Washington (The Constable-Hamilton Portrait, 1797) Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas





Mrs. Harrison Gray Otis, 1809 Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, NC





John Carrol, first Catholic bishop of the United States, c. 1804, Georgetown University Art Collection, Washington, D.C.

 
 
 

 
 
 
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