Search the Collections

Gilbert Charles Stuart
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
North Kingston, R.I.
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Boston, Mass.
American painter, one of the great portraitists of his era and the creator of the most popular image of George Washington. Was born on Dec. 3, 1755, in his father's snuff mill near Narragansett, R.I.. He grew up in nearby Newport and there learned the rudiments of painting from Samuel King and Cosmo Alexander, a visiting Scotsman. He accompanied Alexander to Edinburgh about 1771, but returned home a year later. In 1775 he went to London and entered the studio of Benjamin West, with whom he worked for about 6 years. His mature style owed more, however, to Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds than to West. In 1782 he opened his own London studio and for five years enjoyed great success. In 1787 he fled to Dublin to escape his creditors. After six years in Ireland he returned to the U.S. in 1793, worked for a year in New York, then settled in Philadelphia, then the political and cultural capital of the nation. He quickly established himself as the nation's leading portrait painter, a position he held until his death on July 9th, 1828, in Boston, where he had settled in 1805 (Encyc. Britt. 21 p.324);