Gilbert Stuart


May 29, 2022

Gilbert Charles Stuart (born Stewart) (December 3, 1755 – July 9, 1828) was an American painter. Gilbert Stuart is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding North American portraitists. His best-known work, George Washington (also known as The Athenaeum and the Unfinished Portrait) was completed in 1796. The image of George Washington depicted in the painting appeared on the US dollar bill for over a century. During his career, Gilbert Stuart produced portraits of over a thousand people, including the first six Presidents of the United States. His work is currently in museums across the United States and the United Kingdom, prominently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the National Portrait Gallery of the United Kingdom in London, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.


Gilbert was born in Saunderstown, Rhode Island in 1755. He was the third child of Gilbert Stewart, a Scottish immigrant employed in the tobacco industry, and Elizabeth Anthony Stewart, a member of a prominent Middletown, Rhode Island landowner family. at the age of seven, where his father sought work in the field of commerce. In Newport, Stuart began to show himself as a great promise of painting. He was instructed by Cosmo Alexander, a Scottish painter. Under Alexander's guidance, Stuart painted the famous portrait of Dr. Hunter's Spaniels, which currently hangs in Newport's Hunter House Manison, when he was 12 years old. In 1773, on the death of his master, Stuart returned to Newport and tried to make a living as a portraitist, but his efforts were in jeopardy. the outbreak of the American Revolution and its social upheavals. Following the example of John Singleton Copley, Stuart moved to England in 1775. He became a protege of Benjamin West, with whom he studied for the next six years. There came a time when the price of his paintings was only surpassed by those of renowned English artists Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, who represented the tradition of English portraiture that followed Stuart himself. Despite having many orders, Stuart was carefree in financial matters, and he ran the risk of being sent to prison for debts. In 1787 he fled to Dublin, Ireland, where he continued to paint and accumulate debts with equal vigor. Due to his lack of money, Stuart returned to the United States in 1793, settling for a short time in New York. In 1795 he moved to Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, near (and now part of) Philadelphia, then the capital of the USA, where he opened a study. It was there where he would obtain his place in the artistic world, as well as lasting fame with his paintings of many important North Americans of the time. Beginning in 1795, Stuart painted George Washington in a series of portraits. He also painted portraits of the presidents who succeeded George Washington in office. Stuart moved to Boston in 1805, continuing his critical success and financial troubles. Upon his death, Stuart left many debts to his family, for which his wife and daughters were unable to purchase a tomb for him.


By the end of his career, Gilbert Stuart had portrayed thousands of American politicians and social figures. The vitality and naturalness of his portraits was praised, and his models found his company pleasant: Stuart worked unaided from sketches, starting directly on the canvas. This was infrequent at the time. He was a painter who took great care of detail, especially in clothes. His brushstroke was loose and charged.

Main works

El patinador (Portrait of William Grant) - The Skater (Portrait of William Grant) (1782) George Washington (Vaughan Portrait) - George Washington (Vaughan Portrait)