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Imagining George Washington
The Boglewood Catalog
of Images Published during his Life


Image Sources:  Gilbert Stuart

 

GILBERT STUART (1755-1828) rose from humble beginnings as the son of a Boston snuff maker to become the leading painter in the young United States.  His family later moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where Stuart received his first training in art from Cosmo Alexander, a Scots-born artist trained in Italy.  Stuart accompanied Alexander to Scotland in 1772 but returned to Newport about 1774, shortly after Alexander's death.
    Stuart returned to London in 1775, perhaps motivated by Tory sentiment in the growing shadow of America's independence movement. After early unsuccessful efforts to work as an artist in London on his own, he became a student and protégé of Benjamin West, the hugely successful American-born court painter to King

 

George III.  Stuart studied with West for six years before opening his own portrait studio and becoming one of the highest paid artists in London.
    Notwithstanding his success, he moved his studio to Dublin in 1787, possibly to avoid the numerous creditors he had amassed. Stuart's success in Dublin equaled that in London, but after five years he decided to return to America for the expressed purpose of making a fortune painting portraits of Washington and thereby satisfying his creditors.  He had his studio successively in New York (1793-1794), Philadelphia (1794-1802), Washington, D. C. (1802-1805) and Boston (1805-1828), and was always greeted with acclaim.


Stuart Type A

Oil on canvas.
29" x 23-3/4" (1795)
"Vaughan"

 


The "Vaughan" portrait was ordered by John Vaughan and was probably painted by Stuart in his Philadelphia studio. Washington sat for the portrait in 1795, and it is generally regarded as Stuart's first portrait of Washington.

According to family tradition, Vaughan gave the portrait to his father or brother in London, where Thomas Holloway created the first engraving of it. The painting was acquired by a private owner in America before 1859.


   Print based on Peale Type A
 
Boglewood 2402

Boglewood 2403
 

Stuart Type B

Oil on canvas.
96" x 60" (1796)
"Lansdowne"

 


The "Lansdowne" portrait was painted for Senator William Bingham of Philadelphia in April 1796.  Bingham hung the portrait at Lansdowne, his country estate, until his death.  Since 1811 the portrait has been in the collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

The Lansdowne portrait has been a frequent inspiration for Washington prints, but none of them seems to have been produced before Washington's death.


   
 

 

 


 
Stuart Type C

Oil on canvas.
42" x 31-1/2" ( 1796)
"Athenaeum"

 


The painting which became known as the "Athenaeum" portrait of Washington dates from mid to late 1796, when Washington sat for it in Stuart's studio in Germantown on the outskirts of Philadelphia.  Stuart retained the portrait and a companion likeness of Martha Washington until his death in 1828.  At that time the pair were sold to the Washington Association and a group of individuals, who presented them to the Boston Athenaeum Society.

  Prints based on Stuart Type C

Boglewood 2601
Boglewood 2604
 

Stuart Type D

Oil on canvas.
50" x 40" (1797)
"Constable"

 


The "Constable" portrait was painted for William Constable, apparently as a gift from Constable to Alexander Hamilton.  A Hamilton descendant bequeathed it to the New York Public Library in 1896.

The Constable portrait has been a frequent inspiration for Washington prints, but none of them seems to have been produced before Washington's death.


   
 
 

© 2013 Boglewood Company/C. I. G.