George Washington, c. 1821
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Gift of Thomas Jefferson Coolidge IV in memory of his great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, his grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge II, and his father, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge III
oil on wood
Gilbert Stuart, a native of Rhode Island, made his reputation painting portraits of the upper classes in London and Dublin in the 1770s and 1780s. He returned to America in 1793 specifically to paint the first president’s portrait. George Washington sat for Stuart three times, and Stuart made numerous copies for eager patrons. This version is among the best of the 72 copies Stuart made of his Athenaeum format. In his lifetime, Stuart painted over 1,000 portraits.