Gilbert Stuart, American, George Washington, c. 1795. Oil on canvas. Harvard University Portrait Collection, Gift of Sidney F. Tyler to the University, 1969, H631.
Gallery Text

In 1794, Gilbert Stuart moved from New York to the capital, Philadelphia, to take advantage of America’s demand for portraits of the first president. This work is one of nearly one hundred portraits of Washington that Stuart painted in his career. In keeping with the democratic ideals of the new nation, Stuart eschewed the elaborate costumes and grand settings common to representations of European rulers to focus on the president’s face. Washington’s ruddy skin tones indicate a man of energy and action, while his concentrated gaze and taut lips suggest the discipline and self-control for which he was famous.

Stuart’s portraits of Washington caused a sensation when they were first exhibited, and their fame has endured to the present. Reproduced on everything from dollar bills to album covers, these portraits have seared the image of the “father of the country” into the national consciousness, and have helped shape America’s vision of its past.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
H631
People
Gilbert Stuart, American (North Kingstown, RI 1755 - 1828 Boston, MA)
George Washington (1732 - 1799)
Title
George Washington (1732-1799)
Other Titles
Former Title: George Washington-- "Vaughan" type
Former Title: The Fisher Family Portrait
Former Title: The Fisher-Tyler Portrait
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
c. 1795
Places
Creation Place: North America, United States
Culture
American
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/302052
Location
Level 2, Room 2200, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Emergence of Romanticism in Early Nineteenth-Century France
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
73.7 x 61 cm (29 x 24 in.)
framed: 92.7 x 79.4 x 7.6 cm (36 1/2 x 31 1/4 x 3 in.)
Provenance
Fisher Family, Philadelphia, 1796, sold; to Mrs. George F. Tyler, Philadelphia, 1921, by descent; to Sydney F. Tyler, Carbondale, CO, gift; to Harvard University, 1969.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard University Portrait Collection, Gift of Sidney F. Tyler to the University, 1969
Object Number
H631
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Vaughan Type
Publication History

Mantle Fielding, Gilbert Stuart's Portraits of Washington (1923), no. 6, ill. opp. p. 39

Lawrence Park, Gilbert Stuart: An lllustrated Descriptive List of His Works, vol. I - IV, W. E. Rudge (New York, NY, 1926), vol. II, pp. 848-49, no. 6

John Hill Morgan and Mantle Fielding, The Life Portraits of Washington and their Replicas, Lancaster Press, Inc. (Lancaster, PA, 1931), p. 253, no. 6, ill. opp. p. 256

Charles Merrill Mount, Gilbert Stuart: A Biography, W. W. Norton & Company (New York, NY, 1964), p. 378

The Frick Collection: An Illustrated Catalogue. Volume I: Paintings: American, British, Dutch, Flemish, and German, The Frick Collection (New York, 1968), p. 4

Kenyon Castle Bolton, III, Peter G. Huenink, Earl A. Powell III, Harry Z. Rand, and Nanette C. Sexton, American Art at Harvard, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1972), cat. 23, ill.

Dorinda Evans, Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art, Bicentennial Exhibition, exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, 1976), pp. 170-171

Timothy Anglin Burgard, American Art at Harvard: Cultures and Contexts, brochure, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1994), pp. 2, 10, cat. 2

Carrie Rebora Barratt and Ellen G. Miles, Gilbert Stuart, exh. cat., Metropolitan Museum of Art / Yale University Press (New York, 2004), pp. 141-142, ill. p. 142, fig. 86

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press (U.S.) and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), pp. 33, 398, 448-50, cat. 415, ill.

Exhibition History

American Art at Harvard, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/19/1972 - 06/18/1972

Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art, Bicentennial Exhibition, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 04/09/1976 - 10/10/1976

American Art at Harvard: Cultures and Contexts, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/01/1994 - 12/30/1994

32Q: 2200 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu