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Stuart, Gilbert

STUART, GILBERT (1755-1828), American artist, was born at North Kingstown, Rhode Island, on the 3rd of December 1755. He studied at Newport, Rhode Island, with Cosmo Alexander, and went with him to Scotland, but returned to America after Alexander's death and obtained many portrait 1 Cat. of State Papers, Venetian, ix. 541, x. 42, 514.

2 Lotti, Venetian secretary, writing on the 23rd of June, - Athenaeum, vol. 97, ii. 353.

1047 commissions. In 1775 he went to England, and became a pupil of Benjamin West in 1778. His work, however, shows none of the influence of West, and after four years Stuart set up a studio for himself in London, meeting with much success. Living beyond his means, he got into financial difficulties, and in 1788 escaped to Dublin. In London he had painted George III. and the future George IV., and in Paris had painted Louis XVI., and his success was no less great in Ireland. After five years he left Ireland for his native land in order to paint General Washington, who was said to be the only person in whose presence Stuart found himself embarrassed, and his first portrait Stuart felt was a failure; but Washington sat to him again, the result being the " Athenaeum " head on an unfinished canvas, showing the left side of the face. This remains the accepted likeness of Washington, of whom he also painted a full-length for Lord Lansdowne ; of each of these portraits he executed many replicas. Among his portraits are those of Presidents Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams, and John Jay, Governor Winthrop, Generals Gates and Knox, Bishop White, Chief Justice Shippen, John Singleton Copley, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Benjamin West, Lords Clinton, Lyndhurst, and Inchiquin, Sir Edward Thornton, Mme Patterson-Bonaparte and Horace Binney. Stuart's original colouring and technique, and his insight into character, make him not only one of the few great American artists, but one of the greatest portrait painters of his time. He settled at Boston in 1805, and died there on the 27th of July 1828.

See George C. Mason, Life and Works of Gilbert Stuart (New York, 1879).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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