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Gilbert Stuart
1755 - 1828

Portrait Painter of Washington. He Set the Stuart Style

Gilbert Charles Stuart is the best known portrait painter of the American Colonial era. He painted the most popular image of George Washington, which has long occupied a position of prominence in the White House in Washington. ■ He was a distinguished painter of the prominent public figures of his time, including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, King George, and Sir Joshua Reynolds. ■ Gilbert Stuart was born December 3, 1755, near Narragansett, Rhode Island. His parents had emigrated to the Colonies from Perth, Scotland. He showed early inclinations toward art and learned the rudiments of painting from Samuel King. A visiting Scottish artist from Edinburgh, Cosmo Alexander, added further to his training. ■ When Alexander returned to Edinburgh, Stuart went with him. From there he went to London to study under Benjamin West. In London he also had the good fortune to work under the tutelage of such great painters as Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds. ■ In 1782 he opened his own studio in London and for five years enjoyed great success. However, his spending exceeded his income and he fled to Ireland to escape his creditors. He returned to America in 1793 and settled in Philadelphia, then the political and cultural capital of the nation. He quickly established himself as America's leading portrait painter which he held until his death in Boston July 9, 1828. ■ Stuart's work was hailed by his contemporaries and subsequent critics have confirmed this judgment, especially praising his brushwork, luminous color, and psychological penetration. He painted more than 1,000 portraits and left a profound impression on nearly two generations of American painters.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546