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S T- 





Sarah Cooper Hewitt 

presented in memory of 

her father 

Abram S. Hewitt 

and her sister 

Eleanor Garnier Hewitt 


























FROM the time Washington took com- 
mand of the army at Cambridge a very 
general public interest was aroused in 
the personal appearance of the Commander-in- 
Chief. The many engraved portraits of Wash- 
ington which were published during his lifetime 
bear upon their face the evidence of their own 
identity and genuineness. Not so, however, the 
oil portraits which have as a rule no date or sig- 
nature ; their authenticity rests partly upon their 
inherent quality but more particularly upon their 
history or pedigree. Most of the original por- 
traits of Washington were painted from one hun- 
dred and ten to one hundred and twenty-five 
years ago, and, as in so long a period document- 
ary evidence of authenticity is in the case of most 
of the contemporary portraits entirely lost or rests 




upon very feeble family tradition, it is desirable 
to take every precaution to preserve jealously the 
pedigrees of such portraits as are beyond dispute. 
Letters or documents relating to such a precious 
heirloom as an authentic contemporary portrait 
of Washington should be safe-guarded in every 
possible way. Such documents are always in 
danger of being lost or destroyed, but there is 
one method, reproduction by printing, which is 
more sure and certain than preservation even in 
a safe deposit vault. Although this little book 
is circulated only among a small circle of friends, 
it is hoped that the printing of these records may 
be the means of preserving in perpetuity the his- 
tory and the pedigree of the three portraits il- 
lustrated within these covers, which represent 
Washington as he appeared at two very differ- 
ent periods of his life — Washington, the Gene- 
ral, and Washington, the President. 

C. A. M. 
The Terraces, 
Llewellyn Park, Orange, N. J. 




General Washington Title 

Painted by Charles Willson Peale. 
Original owner Joseph Wilson of Philadelphia and 
Dublin. Present owner Charles A. Munn. 

John Trumbull i 

From a portrait by Gilbert Stuart. Property of 
Mrs. William Forbes Morgan. 

Portrait of General Washington . 5 

Painted by John Trumbull — 1780. 
Original owner M. de Neufville of Amsterdam. 
Present owner, Charles A. Munn. 

George Washington 6 

Engraved by Valentine Green — 1781. 
After the portrait by Trumbull. The earliest gen- 
uine portrait of Washington published in Europe. 

Washington 7 

After the Trumbull portrait. 
With fictitious tropical landscape. 

Early Chintz Bed Curtain .... 8 

Allegorical composition with figure of Washington 
after the Trumbull portrait. 

Early Lacquered Tea Tray ... 14 

"The Signing of the Declaration of Independence." 
From an unknown composition, probably by Trum- 




Washington at the Battle of Prince- 
ton 24 

Painted by Charles Willson Peale — 1783. 
Original owner Princeton College. Present owner 
Princeton University. 

Earliest Authentic Engraved Por- 
trait of General Washington . . 28 
Drawn and engraved by C. W. Peale — 1778. 

Charles Willson Peale 31 

From the National Portrait Gallery. 

Charles Willson Peale Certificate 33 

Signed by Benjamin Franklin. 

Letters Patent Appointing Joseph Wil- 
son Consul at Dublin — 1794 . . 40 

President Washington 43 

Painted by Gilbert Stuart— 1795. 
Original owner Mr. Scott of Lancaster, Pa. Pres- 
ent owner Charles A. Munn. 

George Washington 48 

Engraved by E. Savage — 1801. 
After the Lansdowne portrait. 

Ivory Miniature of Gilbert Stuart 52 

Painted by Miss Goodridge. 

Owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Miniature of Washington . . . . 60 
By Robert Field. 

Presented to Tobias Lear by Mrs. Washington. 
Owned by Charles A. Munn. 




WHEN the War of the Revolution 
broke out there was in Europe a 
very general interest in the man who 
was chosen as the Commander-in-Chief of the 
American army. The age was one when the 
love of portraiture was at its zenith, and the beau- 
tiful mezzotints which we know so well and 
which command to-day such enormous prices 
were being published and sold for a few shil- 
lings. The publisher in those days was gener- 
ally a man of affairs and eager to turn the nimble 
shilling. Of course, no portrait of Washington 
had been sent to Europe ; in fact, no engraved 
portrait of the great leader existed in this coun- 
try, nor was one published here until three years 
after the war began. Such a little obstacle as 
this, however, did not stand in the way of grat- 
ifying the public demand. 


In September, 1775, there was published in 
London a very curious mezzotint, entitled 
" George Washington, Esq., General and Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in 
America. Done from an original, drawn from 
life by Alexander Campbell, of Williamsburgh, 
in Virginia." This portrait which, of course, 
was purely fictitious, may be found in every col- 
lection of Washington portraits. It was at one 
time considered a great rarity. It certainly is a 
great curiosity. It is frequently offered at pub- 
lic sale, and its great popularity at the time of 
its publication is proved by the fact that it is no 
longer a rarity, except when found in very fine 
condition. It represents Washington mounted 
on a charger, galloping at full speed and waving 
a drawn sword in his hand, while a bloody bat- 
tle is being waged in the background. One of 
these prints was presented to Mrs. Washington 
by Joseph Reed, at one time President of Con- 
gress. Washington, in acknowledging the re- 
ceipt of the print, wrote in January, 1776, as fol- 
lows : " Mr. Campbell, whom I never saw to my 
knowledge, has made a very formidable figure of 
the Commander-in-Chief, giving him a sufficient 
portion of terror in his countenance.'' In view 
of the shameless manner in which the public had 


been imposed upon by this forgery, it is hardly 
any wonder that a genuine portrait of Washing- 
ton, engraved by one of the great master-hands 
of the art of engraving in mezzotinto, should 
have been hailed with delight by the collectors 
of those days. 

The print in question is a large folio, after the 
painting by John Trumbull. Trumbull, who 
had served at the outbreak of the war as aide- 
de-camp to Washington, had had frequent op- 
portunities of studying the features of the man 
he greatly admired.* In May, 1780, he sailed 
for the other side, having previously resigned his 
commission in the army in order to make a seri- 
ous study of the art to which he devoted his life. 
On arriving in London he presented a letter of 
introduction from Dr. Franklin to Benjamin 
West, and soon began the serious study of art un- 
der him who was at that time considered a great 
master, a charming gentleman, and one ever wel- 

* In an Orderly Book of the Commander-in-Chief, contain- 
ing the official orders issued from the camp at Cambridge, is 
found the following : 

" General Orders Head Quarters, July 27 th , 1775 

Parole Bedford, Countersign Guilford 
John Trumbull Esq r being appointed Aid de Camp to his 
Excellency the Commander in Chief, is to be obeyed as 
such." A 


come at court. By a curious coincidence, Gil- 
bert Stuart was pursuing his studies under West 
at the same time. Before many months had 
elasped, however, an untoward incident occurred 
which, for the time being, resulted in Trumbull 
severing his connection with his master and 
fleeing England. He was arrested and thrown 
into prison as a suspect, during the period im- 
mediately following the arrest and execution of 
the unfortunate Andre. He languished in prison 
for some months, but was finally released through 
the good offices of his friend and patron, Benja- 
min West, who interceded with the King in 
his behalf. No proof could be brought against 
him; the only crime he had committed was 
being the son of Jonathan Trumbull, the patriot 
Governor of Connecticut, and of having served 
in the Continental army. On obtaining his re- 
lease he was not long in leaving the shores 
where he had been treated so inhospitably. 

When Trumbull arrived on the Continent he 
decided to take up his residence for a short time 
in Amsterdam, and upon his arrival there he 
found important papers awaiting him; in short, 
he found a packet from his father, Governor 
Trumbull, containing authority and instructions 
to negotiate a loan in Holland for the State of 

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Connecticut. He at once repaired to the bank- 
ing house of De Neufville & Son, the members 
of which, he says, " are unquestionably the most 
worthy of the confidence of the State, from their 
knowledge, connections and real attachment for 
America. He was warmly received by Mr. De 
Neufville. " He writes, "Immediately on my 
arrival here Mr. De Neufville invited me to his 
house, where I am at present very hospitably 
and elegantly entertained." 

The portrait of Washington, illustrated in con- 
nection with this chapter, may have been pre- 
sented to Mr. De Neufville in consideration of 
many favors received, but it must have been con- 
veyed to him prior to Trumbull's arrival in Am- 
sterdam. In a letter to his father, Governor 
Trumbull, he writes : "I have received from him 
^"ioo, which has brought me off without the 
necessity of being under obligations to any per- 
sons in England/' As Trumbull had only the 
most limited resources, save what he could raise 
by the exercise of his profession, it seems possi- 
ble that this sum may have been in payment for 
the portrait of Washington. No mention is 
made of the portrait in his correspondence or 
papers, and conjecture alone can solve the prob- 
lem of how the portrait came into the possession 



of the banker. As a matter of historic interest 
there will be found on another page a reproduc- 
tion of the famous engraving, by Valentine Green, 
and the title under the engraving is given here 
in full: 


Painted by J. Trumbull, Esq., of Connecticut, 1780. En- 
graved by V. Green, Mezzotinto Engraver to His Majesty and 
to the Elector Palatin. Engraved from the original picture in 
the possession of M. De Neufville, of Amsterdam. Publish' d 
by Appointm 1 of M. De Neufville, JanT 15th, 1781, by V. 
Green, N. 29, Newman Street, Oxford Street, London. 

From the above it would appear that the por- 
trait must have been sold to the banker De Neuf- 
ville before Trumbull left London. Trumbull 
was released from prison in June, 1880. He 
remained in London a few days only, and then 
set out for the Continent. In his autobiography 
he mentions having met Mr. De Neufville, the 
son and junior partner of the house, in London. 
It is probable that the portrait was sold to him 
at that time, and it is further probable that the 
portrait was not sent to Amsterdam until after 
Trumbull had left London. He remained in 
Amsterdam until August, 1781, when he sailed 
for America. The portrait, however, must have 
remained in the hands of Valentine Green until 
approximately the date of its publication, which 
was January 15, 1781. Its size is 28x36 inches. 




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The popularity of the portrait was very great. 
It was the first authentic portrait of Washington 
that had been published in Europe, and copies 
of it were soon issued in France and elsewhere. 
One of the most attractive of these reproductions 
was published in Brussels, in 178 1, in the "Es- 
sais Historiques et Politiques sur les Anglo-Amer- 
icains " par M. Hilliard d'Auberteuil. An en- 
larged edition (folio) of this same attractive work 
was published in the following year, the print 
having been enlarged to fit the increased size of 
the book, by the addition of an attractive border. 

A curious corruption of this same portrait was 
published in " Beautes de l'Histoire des Etats- 
Unis, ,, Par J. B. Nougaut, Paris, 18 17. It was 
engraved by Maria Misa. The figure of Wash- 
ington is the same, but the Commander-in-Chief 
is standing on a promontory surrounded by gigan- 
tic tropical trees and with a fleet of diminutive 
war ships occupying the bay in the background. 

The persistency with which this figure of 
Washington appears in the various engravings 
and prints of the period is shown in a contem- 
porary bed curtain which is reproduced in an 
accompanying engraving. It was the custom to 
provide the old mahogany four-posters of our 
forefathers with suitable bed hangings, and in the 


curtain shown the figure of Washington is an 
exact reproduction of the Trumbull portrait. 
This composition is an exceedingly interesting 
one. An attractive female figure, bearing a palm 
in one hand and treading disdainfully upon the 
shield of Great Britain, seems to be approaching 
the General with the view of whispering some 
word of encouragement or flattery in his ear. 
In her right hand she carries a medallion embel- 
lished with the portraits of Adams and Laurens. 
An angel who is floating in the air above is in the 
act of crowning the Commander-in-Chief with 
a laurel wreath, and at the same time she is blow- 
ing lustily on a trumpet and proclaiming to the 
world those immortal words, " Washington and 
Independence." On an altar is seated the God- 
dess of Liberty, who is contemplating a portrait 
of Baron Steuben. Two female figures are doing 
homage, one of them being in the act of burn- 
ing incense on the altar. 

The various heads on the medallions are faith- 
ful reproductions of the Du Simitiere series of 
portraits of well-known Revolutionary leaders. 
The originals of these prints are greatly prized 
by collectors. 

There is another bed curtain print of the same 
early period, which is somewhat similar to the 


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B s 

w a: 


one illustrated. The figure of Washington is 
the same as that in the Trumbull portrait, with 
the exception that he is represented as wearing 
a military hat and is standing in a chariot drawn 
by tigers which are being urged forward by two 
Indian boys who are blowing on trumpets. Stand- 
ing near the chariot is a full-length figure of the 
immortal Dr. Franklin in his inevitable fur cap. 
Minerva, armed with a shield adorned with thir- 
teen stars, points out to the aged philosopher a 
temple of fame located in the background. 

This portrait of Washington, owing to the 
many engravings which had been made of it, was 
perfectly well known to collectors and lovers of 
Washingtoniana ; nevertheless for more than a 
hundred years the whereabouts of the portrait was 
entirely unknown, and all hope of ever discover- 
ing this interesting original had been abandoned 
when it was found in this city in the possession 
of a well-known art dealer, who had just brought 
it over from London, and it was quickly acquired 
by the present owner. 

Whereas Gilbert Stuart will ever be known 
prominently as the portrait paifiter of the newly 
formed government, Trumbull will be known 
to posterity as the patriot painter of the Revo- 
lution. By tradition and early training and by 


the later course of his art studies, this proved to 
be the most natural development of his nature. 
Reared in an atmosphere of politics, an eye wit- 
ness of the stirring events preceding the Revo- 
lution and with a father who was, of all the war 
governors, perhaps the most aggressive and who 
was known throughout the Colonies under the 
affectionate nickname which Washington him- 
self applied to him, "Brother Jonathan," is it 
any wonder, when his son's facility in art work 
had matured, that he should have desired to per- 
petuate the stirring events of the War of Inde- 
pendence ? In his autobiography, Trumbull de- 
votes comparatively little space to his work in 
portraiture, but his main pride seems to rest upon 
his historical compositions. In fact, he painted 
comparatively few portraits but devoted his time 
principally to the great events of the war, which 
seemed particularly to fire his imagination. No 
one who has not visited the Art School at Yale 
University can form any conception of Trum- 
bull's work. There may be seen the Battle of 
Bunker Hill, the Battle of Princeton, the Death 
of Montgomery, the Capture of the Hessians at 
Trenton, the surrender of Burgoyne and, last 
but not least, the Declaration of Independence. 
All of these are comparatively small pictures and 



should not be confounded with the large car- 
toons in the National Capitol, which were painted 
many years later. When the Capitol at Wash- 
ington was being completed and the great dome 
was in course of erection, the idea was projected 
of decorating the wall of the rotunda with great 
historical paintings. Trumbull applied himself 
to the task of getting an appropriation from 
Congress for the carrying forward of this work. 
This resulted in his corresponding with a num- 
ber of prominent people with reference to this 
project. The outcome of this correspondence 
was varied, and in many cases very discouraging 
to the artist. The following letter from Presi- 
dent John Adams throws a curious side light on 
the primitive conditions of the times and upon 
the curious Puritanical point of view as regards 
the art development of the nation: 

" Quincy, January i, 1817. 
" My dear Sir: 

Your kind letter of the 26th of Dec r has given me 
more pleasure than it would be prudent or decent for 
me to express. 

" Your design has my cordial approbation and best 
wishes. But you will please to remember that the 
Burin and the Pencil, the Chisel and the Trowell have 
in all ages and Countries of which we have information 
been enlisted on the side of Despotism and Supersti- 



tion. I should have said Superstition and Despotism, 
for Superstition is the first and Universal Cause of 

" Characters and Counsels and Actions merely social, 
merely civil, merely political, merely moral, are always 
neglected and forgotten. Architecture, Sculpture, 
Painting and Poetry have conspired against the Rights 
of Mankind and the Protestant Religion is now un- 
popular and odious because it is not friendly to the 
Fine Arts. 

" I am not however a Disciple of Rousseau. Your 
Country ought to acknowledge itself more indebted to 
you than to any other artist who ever existed and I 
therefore heartily wish you success. 

" But I must beg pardon of my Country, when I say 
that I see no disposition to celebrate or remember or 
even curiosity to enquire into the Characters, Actions 
or Events of the Revolution. 

" I am therefore more inclined to despair, than to 
hope for your success in Congress though I wish it 
with all my heart. 

" I should be glad to be informed of your progress, 
being with sincere esteem and real affection 

Your friend 

John Adams." 
" Col. Trumbull." 

Adams did not do justice, however, to the sense 
of patriotism of the representatives of the people, 
for not many months elapsed before Congress 
appropriated thirty-two thousand dollars for the 



carrying out of the work, and Trumbull was 
commissioned to paint four of the large canvases 
which now embellish the lower walls of the great 

Undoubtedly the best known, and deservedly 
so, of all these important pictures is the " Sign- 
ing of the Declaration of Independence. ,, Trum- 
bull passed many years of his life in preparing the 
studies from life of the chief actors in this drama. 
For a very long time the picture remained un- 
finished, owing to the difficulty which he had 
in procuring portraits of some of the Signers. 
The original picture in the Yale Gallery is full of 
beauty and character. The large cartoon which 
hangs under the great dome of the National 
Capitol and which is the painting from which 
Trumbull's reputation is principally judged, is 
inferior to the earlier pictures in every particu- 
lar. It was painted many years after the earlier 
composition was completed and not until long 
after Trumbull's skill as an artist had begun to 
wane. From an historical point of view the loss 
of this group, had it never been reproduced, would 
have been the most serious loss that could have 
come to the Nation artistically, for in this com- 
position are preserved to posterity the portraits 
of the most distinguished statesmen of the revo- 



lutionary period, and the likenesses of very many 
of these men would have been irretrievably lost 
had it not been for Trumbull. Fortunately there 
is no danger now of such a calamity, as there are, 
besides the two paintings by Trumbull himself, 
the one at New Haven and the other at the 
Capitol, the admirable steel engraving by A. B. 
Durand. Owing to the reproductions which 
have been made, this notable picture is now fa- 
miliar to every school boy in America. There 
is reproduced on another page a very curious 
corruption of this picture. It appears on an old 
lacquered tea-tray which was found in an an- 
tiquity shop in Shrewsbury, England, several 
years ago by a friend of the writer, and promptly 
purchased and sent to America. By comparing 
this composition with the well-known print, it 
will be observed that there are some distinct dif- 
ferences. It will be noticed that there are six 
figures instead of five standing before the desk of 
President John Hancock and also that the group- 
ing is far different. Now what explanation can 
be offered for this variation from the original? 
It is hardly likely that the artisan who made the 
lacquered tea-tray did anything more than slav- 
ishly copy some design which was placed before 
him, nor is it reasonable to suppose that some 































































other artist was employed to alter in such minor 
respects the design of Trumbull. Such a prac- 
tice was not followed in the case of other simi- 
lar reproductions from celebrated paintings, 
as for example the views and scenes which have 
been reproduced so attractively on the Stafford- 
shire blue china. Is it not more likely that the 
design was some original study which had been 
rejected by Trumbull but which, through some 
accident, fell into the hands of the tray-maker ? 

In the Library of Princeton University there 
are six preliminary studies of the Battle of Prince- 
ton, all of which vary materially in composition, 
but which in spirit are close cousins. It is doubt- 
less true that Trumbull, who was a painstaking 
and laborious artist, followed a similar course 
with reference to the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, and that one of these preliminary studies has 
been preserved in a manner which could hardly 
have been anticipated by the artist himself. 

For the portraits which Trumbull introduced 
in these compositions he made small oil sketches 
from life of the distinguished actors in the dramas 
represented; these portraits were made in Lon- 
don, Paris, and in various parts of this country 
from Massachusetts to South Carolina. Some 
of his most charming productions are his por- 



traits and studies in miniature. They are not 
true miniatures, as they are painted in oils on 
wood, but they are full of character and indi- 
viduality. Peale painted many miniatures, but 
they were painted in water colors on ivory. 

These historical pieces never passed into pri- 
vate hands. Trumbull sought to gain his liveli- 
hood by having his principal pictures engraved, 
and these prints were offered for sale in this 
country and abroad. Trumbull's portraits are, 
therefore, of comparative rarity. There are only 
a few authenticated portraits of Washington by 
him, although probably there is no artist (not 
even excepting Peale) who had equal opportuni- 
ties with Trumbull of limning the Father of his 

Besides the portrait described above, perhaps 
the most widely known portrait is the one rep- 
resenting Washington at the Battle of Trenton, 
which is now owned by Yale University. This 
was painted in 1792. It is a large canvas and 
represents the Commander-in-Chief full length 
and life size, with a field glass in his right hand. 
At the rear is a horse held by an orderly and on 
the ground a dismantled cannon. This portrait 
was engraved by Thomas Cheesman and pub- 
lished in London August 1, 1796. This engrav- 



ing is in stipple. The same picture was en- 
graved in mezzotint by W. Warner and pub- 
lished in Philadelphia in 1845. This portrait 
was originally painted for the City of Charles- 
ton, but the style of treatment was considered 
too martial and heroic and the portrait was re- 
jected. Trumbull later painted another portrait 
for Charleston, but, judging from the print en- 
graved in mezzotint and recently published by 
Rosenthal, the City was not the gainer by refus- 
ing the earlier portrait. An admirable, full-size 
copy, in oils, of the New Haven portrait has 
recently been hung in the Union Club, New 
York, having been presented to the Club by 
members who are Sons of the Revolution. 

The next most important portrait is an impos- 
ing, full-length hanging in the Council Cham- 
ber of the City Hall in New York. It repre- 
sents the Commander-in-Chief in full uniform, 
standing in front of the fort which was formerly 
located at the Battery, at the southern end of 
New York City. The Bay and Narrows may 
be seen in the background and the harbor is full 
of shipping. This important portrait has never 
been properly engraved. At the suggestion of 
the writer some years ago Mr. Arlent Edwards, 
the clever mezzotint engraver, whose color prints 



are so widely known, was induced to make a re- 
production in mezzotint of the portrait, but he 
labored under great difficulties, as the room was 
dark and the picture could not be taken down, 
and so the result was not altogether satisfactory. 

The only other important portrait of Wash- 
ington by Trumbull is a full-length representa- 
tion of the Commander-in-Chief in uniform, 
standing by the side of his grey charger. This 
closely resembles the portrait at the City Hall 
and evidently was a study for the larger picture. 
It was painted in 1790 and measures 20 x 30 
inches and is therefore considerably smaller than 
the "de Neu^lte" portrait first described in 
this chapter. This picture belonged to General 
Edmund Law Rogers, of Baltimore and now 
belongs to the Rogers Estate. 

Some idea of the intimate relations that ex- 
isted between Washington and Trumbull may 
be gathered from the accompanying letter. 

Copy of a letter from General Washington 
to the Marquis De La Fayette 

"Philadelphia, Nov. 21st, 1 79 1 . 
My dear Sir: 

Mr. John Trumbull with whom you are ac- 
quainted is engaged in painting a series of pic- 



tures of the most important events of the Revo- 
lution in this country from which he proposes 
to have plates engraved. 

I have taken this peculiar satisfaction in giv- 
ing every proper aid in my power to a subscrip- 
tion supporting this work, which has been like- 
wise patronised by the principal people in this 

In the hope of meeting the patronage of the 
French nation, to whose honor as well as that 
of America, this plan is directed, Mr. Trumbull 
informs me that he has ordered a subscription to 
be opened in Paris, and the object of this letter 
is to engage you to support the subscription in 
that City, and other parts of the Nation where 
it may be offered. 

I should not however do justice to Mr. Trum- 
bulFs talents and merits were I to question his 
views and wishes on this occasion. His pieces 
so far as they are executed meet the warm ap- 
plause of all who have seen them — the greatness 
of the design and the masterly execution of the 
work equally interest the man of a capacious 
mind, as the approving eye of the connoisseur. 
He has spared no pains in obtaining from the life 
the likeness of those characters, French as well as 
American, who bore a conspicuous part in our 



Revolution — and the success with which his ef- 
forts have been crowned will form no small part 
of the value of his pieces. 

To you, my dear Sir, who know Mr. Trum- 
bull as a man and as an artist, it would perhaps 
have been hardly necessary to say so much as I 
have done, on this occasion. But I could not 
in justice say less of him when I believe in his 
profession he will do much honor to the liberal 
art of painting as well as to this, his native 

I cannot conclude this letter without con- 
gratulating you most sincerely on the King's 
acceptance of the Constitution presented to him 
by the National Assembly, and upon the happy 
consequences which promise to flow to your 
Country, as well as to mankind in general from 
that event. The prayers and wishes of the 
friends of the human race have attended the ex- 
ertions of your Nation; and when your affairs 
shall be completely settled under an energetic 
and equal government the hearts of good men 
will be gratified, and no one will rejoice in your 
felicity, and for the noble and disinterested part 
you have acted, more than your sincere friend 
and truly affectionate servant 

(Signed) Geo. Washington." 



The letter copied above, in Washington's 
handwriting, is in the possession of the writer 
and with it is a copy of the letter in the hand- 
writing of Trumbull. Accompanying this copy 
is the following note in the handwriting of Trum- 
bull, which is interesting as explaining why the 
letter of introduction was never delivered to 
La Fayette. 

" This sheet covers, for the purpose of its 
preservation if possible, a letter written by Genl. 
Washington to the Marquis de La Fayette in 
1 79 1 recommending to his protection in France 
the subscription of Mr. Trumbull's series of en- 
gravings intended to commemorate the great 
events of the American Revolution. This letter 
was written at the request of Mr. T. and sent 
by him to his correspondent in London (Mr. 
A. C. de Poggi) to be used in France. Un- 
happily, before the letter came to the hands of 
Mr. Poggi the French Revolution had begun 
to assume that character of bloody and inhuman 
ferocity which rendered it a curse and not a 
blessing to the human race, and when Mr. 
Trumbull accompanied Mr. Jay to London in 
1797 it was returned to his hands." 



IN the autumn of 1 905, while visiting a friend 
who is a Professor in Princeton University, 
the writer learned of a portrait of Wash- 
ington, painted by Charles Willson Peale, which 
was offered for sale in Dublin, Ireland. Hav- 
ing obtained the address of the owner, a corre- 
spondence ensued, which extended over many 
months. After the credentials had been exam- 
ined and satisfactory arrangements had been 
made, Mr. Roger E. Fry, Curator of Paintings 
of the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New 
York, who was about to sail for Europe, kindly 
consented to visit Dublin and examine the por- 
trait. His report proved to be satisfactory, and 
the sale was finally confirmed by cable. The 
picture, carefully packed in a metal sarcopha- 
gus, arrived here safely in August, 1906, some 
ten months after the opening of negotiations. 



The portrait is an important one, the canvas 
measuring five feet two inches by seven feet. 

A reproduction of the work is published op- 
posite the title page. The Commander-in-Chief 
is represented as standing beside a field-piece, 
upon which he is resting his left hand. In his 
right hand he holds a hat and across his breast is 
the conventional blue sash which is often shown 
in the portraits of Washington painted by Peale. 
The British standards are lying in disorder on 
the ground, and overhead floats proudly the ban- 
ner of the Colonies. In the background, at the 
left, is the college campus at Princeton, and some 
British prisoners in red coats are being marched 
across the field under guard. Grand old Nassau 
Hall, the largest building at that time in the Col- 
onies, stands out distinctly in the background. 
The expression of the Commander-in-Chief is 
particularly pleasing and the painting has been 
much admired by those who have examined it. 

The picture is carefully painted and the can- 
vas is entirely untouched and clean and spotless, 
as when it left the easel. In all probability, the 
picture was painted between the years 1780 and 
1783. The portrait of Washington hanging in 
the Faculty room of old Nassau, in Princeton, 
was painted in the latter year. 

2 3 



As may be seen by examining the reproduc- 
tion of the latter portrait on another page, the 
banner displayed over the head of the General 
is the stars and stripes. At first sight it seems 
as if the flag were composed of stripes alone, but 
a careful examination discloses one star and the 
intimation of a blue field. The banner of the 
Dublin portrait, however, is a plain blue field 
with a circle of thirteen stars — an earlier de- 
vice. It would appear, therefore, that this por- 
trait must have been painted earlier than the 
Princeton portrait. 

Much interest centers in the question of the 
flag used during the early part of the war. Pre- 
ble, in his " History of the Flag of the United 
States," says : " The portrait of Washington at 
the battle of Trenton, December 26-27, l 77^> 
painted by Charles Willson Peale in 1 779, rep- 
resents the Union Jack with thirteen stars ar- 
ranged in a circle, but it affords only presump- 
tive proof that such a flag was carried. " Mr. 
Peale's son, Titian R. Peale, writing to a friend 
in 1870, says : "I have just had time to visit the 
Smithsonian Institution to see the portrait of 
Washington painted by my father after the bat- 
tle of Trenton. It is marked in his handwrit- 
ing, 1779. The flag represented a blue field 







with white stars arranged in a circle. I don't 
know that I ever heard my father speak of that 
flag, but the trophies at Washington's feet I 
know he painted from the flags then captured, 
and which were left with him for that purpose. 
The blue ribbon has also excited comment — 
the badge of a Field Marshal of France in that 
day.* I have no other authority, but feel as- 
sured that flag was the flag of our own army at 

*The statement that the blue sash worn by Washington in 
this portrait and in other portraits of the Commander-in-Chief 
was the insignia of a Marshal of France was founded upon a 
very popular fallacy. When the army was encamped before 
Boston, owing to the absence in many cases of uniforms there 
was much confusion and difficulty in recognizing the person 
and rank of officers who might endeavor to pass the lines. In 
a MS. copy of General Washington's orders belonging to the 
writer is found the following entry: 

"General orders. Head Quarters, July 14th, 1775 

Parole, Halifax. Countersign, Inverness 

There being something awkward as well as improper in 
the general officers being stopped at the outposts; ask'd for 
passes by the centinals & obliged often to send for the officer of 
the guard who at sometimes is as unacquainted with the persons 
of the Generals as the privates before they can pass out or in, 
therefore it is Recommended to the officers and men to make 
themselves acquainted with all the officers in general command 
and in the meantime to prevent mistakes the general officers 
and their aid de camps to be distinguished in the following 
manner, the Commander-in-Chief a light blue ribbon wore 
acrost his breast between his coat and waistcoat, the majors 
and brigadier generals by a pink ribbon wore in like manner, 
the aid de camps by a green ribbon. " 



the time, 1779. My father commanded a Com- 
pany at the battles of Germantown, Trenton, 
Princeton and Monmouth, and I am sure repre- 
sented the flag then in use, not a regimental flag, 
but one to mark the new Republic." 

Preble further says: "I have been unable to 
find that it was ever required that the stars 
should be arranged in a circle, though in Trum- 
bull's painting of the Surrender of Burgoyne and 
in Peale's portrait of Washington, the stars are 
arranged in that manner by those artists. The 
resolution of Congress of 1 777 gives no direc- 
tion as to the arrangement of the stars, but says 
they represent not Lyra, nor any heavenly clus- 
ter of stars, but a new constellation. " 

An unfinished sketch, of the battle of Prince- 
ton, by Trumbull, January 3, 1777, in the Art 
School at New Haven, represents the American 
flag with thirteen stars on a blue field. 

Peale, as intimated above, had served under 
Washington and was therefore perfectly familiar 
with the customs of war and the camp. He had 
made a careful study of military detail and pos- 
sessed a solemn reverence for the events of the 

Although no record can be found of the blue 
flag with thirteen stars having been authorized 



by Congress, it is hardly likely that this careful 
painter of the Revolution, should have represented 
a flag which was not in actual use by the army. 
Such a supposition is quite contrary to reason. 
The banners lying inverted at the left of Wash- 
ington have been identified as colors captured from 
the Hessians at the battle of Trenton. In a book 
entitled " Regimental Colors in the War of the 
Revolution/' by Gherardi Davis, there is quoted a 
letter written on December 31,1 776, by William 
Ellery, in which he describes with great accuracy 
the Hessian colors captured at Trenton. This 
letter absolutely confirms the statement made by 
Titian R. Peale that these standards were copied 
from the originals, and it is a wonderful tribute 
to the care and accuracy of Peale's work that the 
detail shown in these flags corresponds exactly 
with Mr. Ellery's description. 

It is interesting in this connection to compare 
this portrait with the engraving which is con- 
sidered by collectors in many respects the most 
prized of all the portraits of the General. It is 
the first engraved portrait of Washington pub- 
lished in this country. This portrait was en- 
graved in mezzotinto by Charles Willson Peale 
after a portrait by himself, painted for Governor 
Hancock. In a paper read by William S. Baker, 



the pioneer student of Washington portraiture, 
before the Pennsylvania Historical Society in 
1889, allusion is made to the existence of this 
print. He says that the first engraved portrait 
was executed in 1778. " From this plate, how- 
ever, no impressions are known, the information 
as to its production being obtained from his man- 
uscript note book as follows: 'Oct. 16, 1778. 
Began a drawing in order to make a mezzotinto 
of Genl. Washington. Got a plate of Mr. Brooks, 
and in pay I am to give him 20 of the prints in 
the first 100 struck off. Nov. 15th. Began to 
print off the small plate of Genl. Washington. 
1 6th, Continued the same business all day and 
sold 1 1 doz. at Five Doll's.' " What would not 
this veteran collector and student have given to 
have seen and owned one of these rarities ! It 
was fifteen years after this before one of these 
prints was discovered and given out to the world 
in the admirable Catalogue of Washington Por- 
traits, issued by the Grolier Club in 1904. The 
only title on the print is that shown in the repro- 
duction : " His Excellency, George Washington, 
Esq r ." Mr. Charles Henry Hart, the able Ed- 
itor of this work, says in his preface : " Perhaps 
the most important find recorded in these pages 
is the first number of the book, Charles Willson 






Peale's earliest mezzotint portrait of Washing- 
ton, published in 1778 and which, until my dis- 
covery, was thought not to exist, being known 
only by its advertisement. " The advertisement 
alluded to appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet 
or General Advertiser, for Saturday, November 
21, 1778, and mentions the print as on sale by 
John Dunlap, at the price of five dollars, and 
reads: "A few mezzotint prints of His Excel- 
lency, General Washington. " As an engraving 
it is a crude piece of work. As a work of art it 
is singularly deficient. The pose is awkward and 
theatrical, and the drawing leaves everything to 
be desired ; but in spite of these crudities this 
youthful face bears a striking resemblance to the 
Washington in the Dublin portrait. To the 
heart of the collector this print, with all its 
amateurish peculiarities, will always have a spec- 
ial charm and attraction as being the first medium 
by which an admiring public learned to know 
anything concerning the physical appearance of 
the Commander-in-Chief. It seems singular 
and is a conclusive evidence of the primitive 
condition of art in those days that three years 
elapsed after the breaking out of the war before 
a portrait should have been published of the man 
who was the most admired and esteemed of men 



by his fellow-countrymen, and whose fame had 
extended to the most remote parts of Europe. 

The youthful Washington of the period of the 
Revolution is a type, strange to say, which seems 
to be comparatively unknown to the ordinary 
layman, whose only idea of the Father of his 
Country is that portrayed in the Stuart portraits. 
It is interesting, therefore, in this connection, to 
compare the type disclosed in the Dublin por- 
trait with the head shown in the Trumbull por- 
trait previously described, which was painted 
about the same period. The resemblance be- 
tween the two is certainly very striking. Peale 
had singular opportunities for making studies 
and portraits of the Commander-in-Chief, and 
there is no doubt that he painted more portraits 
of the General from life than any other artist. 
Mr. W. S. Baker, in his pioneer work on the 
engraved portraits of Washington, states that 
Peale painted fourteen portraits of Washington 
from life. It has not been claimed that Trum- 
bull painted more than three from life, nor is 
it likely that Stuart painted more than that same 
number from life, although it would seem that 
he must have had an opportunity of touching 
up some of his copies while he had the Presi- 
dent in his studio for some of his sittings. 






There is a most interesting similarity in the 
careers of Trumbull and Peale. Although Peale 
was fifteen years the senior of Trumbull, they 
both went to Boston to study art, and both of 
them applied to Copley for assistance or advice. 
Both served in the War of the Revolution and 
both attained some prominence. Peale reached 
the rank of Captain of Volunteers and Trumbull 
served as Aide-de-Camp to Washington, and later 
was appointed Major of Brigade and finally 
reached the rank of Colonel. Both went to 
London to study painting under their fellow- 
countryman, Benjamin West. When they re- 
turned to their native land, after their studies 
abroad had been completed, both were inter- 
ested in establishing art schools in their adopted 
cities. Trumbull was a leading spirit in and 
became the President of the New York Acad- 
emy of Fine Arts, the predecessor of the Acad- 
emy of Design, while Peale attempted to form 
an Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Both 
devoted their artistic talents principally to paint- 
ing the portraits of men prominently connected 
with the Revolution and with the infant gov- 
ernment. Their line of work, however, was 
along somewhat different channels, for although 
Peale devoted himself entirely to portraiture, 



Trumbull became the pictorial historian of the 
Revolution. Of the two men, Peale had the 
greater versatility, and his many accomplish- 
ments are the subject of considerable mirth at 
the hands of that ribald chronicler and critic, 
William Dunlap. In his " History of the Arts 
of Design" he says: "We shall sum up the 
trades, employments and professions of Mr. Peale 
somewhat as his biographer in the Cabinet of 
National History has done. He was a saddler, 
harness maker, clock and watch maker, silver- 
smith, painter in oils, crayons and miniature, 
modeler in clay, wax and plaster ; he sawed his 
own ivory for his miniatures, moulded the glasses 
and made shagreen cases; he was a soldier, a leg- 
islator, a preserver of animals, whose deficiencies 
he supplied by means of glass eyes and artificial 
limbs ; he was a dentist, and he was, as his bi- 
ographer truly says, a mild, benevolent and good 
man." Dunlap neglected to mention in his list 
the fact that Peale was an engraver in mezzo- 
tinto (an art little practiced in this country at 
that time) of no mean ability. Owing to their 
intrinsic interest and great rarity Peale's mezzo- 
tints sell for more to-day than Peale received dur- 
ing his lifetime for his original portraits. He 
died in 1 827, in the eighty-sixth year of his age. 




1 f\|M x r^r*>i 


g -fell 





; si 



Trumbull died in 1843, m t ' ie eighty-seventh 
year of his age. 


The portrait was purchased, as stated above, 
in 1906, from James Harrington Wilson, of 
South Hill, Clifden, County of Galway, Ireland. 
The following is the history of the portrait as 
given by the late owner, the original of which, is 
in the possession of the present owner of the por- 
trait, together with all the other papers referred 
to hereinafter, including the commission to the 
original owner, Joseph Wilson, signed by 
George Washington, President, and the commis- 
sion issued to his son, Thomas Wilson, and 
signed by John Quincy Adams, President. 


County of Galway ) I, James Harrington Wil- 

to wit J son, of South Hill, Clifden, in 

the County of Galway, and of Armagh, in the County 

of Armagh, esquire, do solemnly and sincerely declare 

as follows : 

1 . THAT my paternal great-grandfather was Joseph 
Wilson, formerly of Philadelphia in the United States 
of America and of the City of Dublin, merchant. 

2. THAT my said great-grandfather was owner of 
estates in the County of Armagh to which I have suc- 



ceeded as heir under settlements made by the settle- 
ments and wills of my said great-grandfather Joseph 
Wilson and my grandfather Thomas Wilson. 

3. THAT I have since the death of my father 
Joseph Wilson, been in possession of the said estates 
and as such became the owner, and have been in pos- 
session of the portrait of General George Washington 
hereafter referred to. 

4. MY said great-grandfather Joseph Wilson resided 
in, and was a merchant of considerable standing in the 
City of Philadelphia, and at the time of his death was 
the owner of considerable property in the City of Phila- 
delphia adjoining the River Delaware, and also a man 
of great wealth and owner of property in Ireland 
and from the repute in my family he was Aid-de- 
Camp to General George Washington, the first Presi- 
dent of the United States of America during the 
War of Independence, and a great personal friend 
of his. 

5. WHEN my said great-grandfather came to re- 
side in Dublin he was appointed Consul for the United 
States, and I refer to the original Patent of his appoint- 
ment as such Consul which is dated the 29th day of 
May 1794 and signed by George Washington and the 
Secretarv of State of the United States of America, and 
on which marked "A" I have signed my name before 
making this Declaration. 

6. IT IS THE reputation in my family that the 
full-length picture of General George Washington was 
a presentation to my said great-grandfather from the 
said General Washington, and that to prove his grati- 



tude to my said great-grandfather the said General 
Washington stood for the picture and had it painted 
for him, and my said great-grandfather Joseph Wilson 
by his will bequeathed the picture as an heirloom to 
his son Thomas Wilson. My said great-grandfather's 
will is dated the 13th day of February, 1809 and I re- 
fer to an official certified copy of extracts from same on 
which marked " B " I have signed my name before 
making this Declaration. 

7. MY GRANDFATHER the said Thomas Wil- 
son who succeeded to the said estates and possession 
of the said picture was also appointed Consul for the 
United States of America at Dublin, and I refer to 
the original Patent of his appointment signed by Presi- 
dent John Quincy Adams and dated the 17th day of 
March 1826, and countersigned by H. Clay, Secretary 
of State for the United States of America, on which 
marked "C" I have signed my name before making 
this Declaration. 

8. MY GRANDFATHER the said Thomas Wil- 
son bequeathed the said picture of General Washing- 
ton to his son my father Joseph Wilson also to go as 
an heirloom with the family estates, and I refer to an 
official copy extract from the will of my said grand- 
father Thomas Wilson which is dated the 15th day of 
April 1857, and on which marked " D " I have signed 
my name before making this Declaration. 

9. MY FATHER the said Joseph Wilson suc- 
ceeded to the family estates and to possession of the 
picture of General Washington, and by his will my said 
father bequeathed the said picture to the Trustees of 



his will to go upon the trusts of the family real estates 
in the County of Armagh as contained in the will of 
his late father Thomas Wilson. I refer to an official 
copy extract from the will of my said father Joseph 
Wilson dated 27th day of July 1898 on which marked 
"E" I have signed my name before making this 

10. MY SAID FATHER Joseph Wilson died on 
the 27th day of July 1898 and on his death I went 
into possession of the said family estates and into pos- 
session of the picture of the said General Washington, 
and I became owner of the said family estates in the 
County of Armagh as tenant in tail in possession and 
as such tenant in tail in possession I became absolute 
owner at law of the said picture. 

11. I DULY disentailed the said family estates and 
am now the absolute owner thereof as well as of the 
said picture. 

12. THE picture of General Washington which I 
now refer to, and which is at present in my solicitors' 
office at 10 Ely Place in Dublin is the original picture 
which belonged to my great-grandfather Joseph Wil- 
son, and which has remained in my family ever since, 
and I say that the said picture was greatly valued and 
esteemed as a painting from life of the said General 
Washington by my said great-grandfather, grandfather 
and father as a memorial of the personal friendship of 
my great-grandfather Joseph Wilson with the said 
General Washington. 

And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously 
believing the same to be true and by virtue of the 



Statutory Declarations Act 1835 (5 and 6 William IV) 
Cap 62 

Made and subscribed 
James H. Wilson before me this 20th 

day of June, 1906. 

John J. King, 
Commr. for oaths. 

FEBRUARY 13, I 809 

In the name of God. Amen. I Joseph Wilson 
formerly residing at Philadelphia in the United States 
of America now of the city of Dublin Merchant. . . . 
make this as my last will and testament hereby revok- 
ing all former will or wills by me heretofore made. . . 
I also hereby devise to my said son Thomas Wilson 
all my printed Books together with my watch and fire 
arms and my whole length picture of General Washington 
which picture I desire may remain to him and his 
heirs as an Heir loom but in case my said son Thomas 
should not live to attain the age of Twenty two years 
or not leave lawful issue then the foregoing bequests 
to the use and benefit of my son Robert Wilson but 
in case he should not live to attain the age of Twenty 
two years or not leave lawful issue then to my own 
right heirs. 

APRIL 15, 1857 

In the Name of God Amen I Thomas Wilson of 
Temple Street in the City of Dublin being of sound 



and disposing mind memory and understanding after 
first giving expression to my feelings of gratitude and 
thankfulness to that omnipotent Being who has watched 
over and protected me for such a number of years and 
after stating my firm and steadfast belief in the Divine 
Mission of His Son Our Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ declare this to be my last Will and Testament. 

I also give and bequeath to my said wife for 

her own absolute use and benefit (save and except my 
picture of General Washington which I hereby specifi- 
cally bequeath to my said son Joseph to the intent 
that so far as the rules of Law and equity will permit 
the same may go and be as an heir Loom) all my car- 
riages and horses 

DATED 1898 

I Joseph Wilson of Clonmore Stillorgan in the 
County of Dublin Esquire Deputy Lieutenant do 
hereby revoke all former wills and testamentary dis- 
positions made by me and declare this to be my last 
will and testament. 

I give and bequeath my picture of General Washington 
unto the Honorable Frederick Richard Falkiner Re- 
corder of Dublin my son in law Frederick Codding- 
ton Pilkington my daughter Anne Elizabeth Savage 
and my Sons Joseph Reginald Wilson and Wilfred 
Claude Stanley Wilson their executors administrators 
and assigns upon such trusts as shall or may as nearly 
as the rules of law or equity will permit correspond 
with and be similar to the limitations of the real Estate 



in the County of Armagh in Ireland contained in the 
said will of my late father, yet so that the said trust 
premises shall not for the effect or purpose of trans- 
mission vest absolutely in any person or persons who 
would be tenant or tenants in tail male or general by 
purchase under the said limitations contained in the 
said will of my late father who shall not live to attain 
the age of twenty-one years but the issue who would 
be inheritable under such limitations as aforesaid shall 
not be excluded I declare that the said Frederick Rich- 
ard Falkiner, Frederick Coddington Pilkington, Ann 
Elizabeth Savage, Joseph Reginald Wilson and Wil- 
fred Claude Stanley Wilson hereinafter called my 
trustees or trustee shall not be obliged to see to the 
preservation of my said picture of General Washington 
nor be answerable for the loss thereof or any injury 
thereto while in the possession of the person for the 
time being entitled to the possession thereof under the 
trusts hereinbefore declared concerning the said pict- 


Dublin, July 28th, 1906. 
re General Washington. 
Dear Sir. 

This picture was handed over to Mr. Strickland, 
and we understand that it has been packed and de- 
spatched by him to you, and we have received the 
purchase money from the Royal Bank of Ireland, 



We now send you, per registered post : — 
(i) Original Patent signed by George Washington ap- 
pointing Joseph Wilson Consul in Dublin. 

(2) Original Patent signed by President Adams ap- 

pointing Thomas Wilson Consul in Dublin. 

(3) Official extracts from the will of Joseph Wilson, 


(4) Official extract from the will of Thomas Wilson, 


(5) Official extracts from will of Joseph Wilson, 1898. 

(6) Original statutory Declaration of Mr/ James Har- 
rington Wilson giving the history of the picture. 
We hope that the picture will arrive quite safely, 

and shall be glad to have an acknowledgment of re- 
ceipt of these documents, and of the picture. 
We are, dear Sir, 

Yours very truly, 

Barrington & Son 
Charles A. Munn, Esq., 

It will thus be seen that the connection be- 
tween the present owner and the original pro- 
prietor is shown in a manner unusually complete, 
and that the portrait has never been out of the 
family of the original proprietor until the time 
of the sale to the present owner, in 1906. 

Owing to Peale's unusual opportunities in 
campaigning with Washington and having his 
personal confidence, he was afforded more sit- 
tings of the Commander-in-Chief than any other 


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painter ever enjoyed. In addition to the ones 
described above, namely, the Princeton and the 
Dublin portraits, there may be mentioned the 
one now hanging in the Capitol at Washington, 
which originally belonged to the Count de Me- 
nou. The Metropolitan Museum in New York 
owns a very fine copy, presented by the late C. 
P. Huntington. There is an interesting one in 
Independence Hall, which was recently brought 
to this country from Spain. Mr. Thomas Mc- 
Kean, of Philadelphia, owns one, and there is 
one at Shirley, on the River James. There is 
one in the Palais at Versailles. The Earl of 
Albemarle owns a copy which was captured on 
the high seas by his ancestor, Captain Keppel. 
It now hangs in the great hall in Quiddenham 
Hall, Norfolk, England. 

An extremely interesting portrait of Wash- 
ington by Peale hangs in the State House at 
Annapolis. Like the others mentioned above, 
it is a full-length and in treatment and manner, 
as well as in the figure of the Commander-in- 
Chief, it strongly suggests the Princeton por- 
trait, although it differs from it widely in com- 
position. The special interest attaching to this 
portrait is that standing beside the central fig- 
ure are the Marquis de La Fayette and Colonel 



Tench Tilghman. The head of the Marquis 
resembles a small head of this able young French 
officer which was engraved by Peale in oval 
form in mezzotint and which is greatly prized 
by collectors because of its intrinsic interest and 
its great rarity. 

At the Chicago Exposition there was a por- 
trait that appeared to have been painted by Peale. 
By some strange misconception it was attributed 
in the French catalogue to Trumbull. It be- 
longed to Mme. de Pusy, of Paris, and formed 
part of the French Loan Exhibition of Ameri- 
can Revolutionary relics. This attribution, how- 
ever, is no more amusing than that given by Sir 
Walter Armstrong, Director of the National 
Gallery of Ireland and author of a work on 
Gainsborough and many other well-known books, 
who, after examining the Dublin portrait, gave 
a certificate to the effect that in his opinion the 
portrait was undoubtedly an original work of 
Gilbert Stuart. It is gratifying to feel that this 
charming portrait by Peale, after a sojourn 
abroad of over one hundred and ten years, 
should once again have returned to the Father- 









LIKE Trumbull and Peale, Stuart went 
abroad at an early age to study art 
under Benjamin West. Born in 1755, 
he sailed for England at the outbreak of the 
war in 1775 and thus, unlike these other artists, 
he saw no service during the Revolution. It 
seems strange that he should have tarried in 
London four years before presenting himself to 
West, but such seems to have been the case. 
He remained abroad seventeen years, during 
which time he painted many of the most dis- 
tinguished people of the times, not the least of 
which were his master and Sir Joshua Reynolds. 
His portraits of these two brought him into 
great prominence and many of his portraits of 
important people were engraved by Valentine 
Green, J. R. Smith, W. Ward, Charles Turner 
and other of the leading engravers of the day. 



His ambition to paint the portrait of Washington 
is said to have been the principal cause of his 
return to his native land, in 1792. It was not 
until 1794, however, that he proceeded to Phila- 
delphia, armed with a letter of introduction to 
the President from John Jay, and the year 1795 
was well advanced before the first sitting was 
arranged for. Stuart appears never to have en- 
joyed the same terms of intimacy with Wash- 
ington that fell to the lot of either Trumbull or 
Peale. It has been said that he never was quite 
at ease with him who, without in the least mean- 
ing to do so, frequently overawed those with 
whom he came in contact. However this may 
be, Stuart did paint three portraits from life 
within the short period of a year. The Athen- 
aeum head he never finished and the tradition 
that it was left in this condition in order that 
he might retain it in his studio as a "nest egg" 
from which he could make copies is certainly 
pretty well substantiated. This charming por- 
trait, together with the companion portrait of 
Mrs. Washington, was sold by his family after 
his death for $1500 and given to the Boston 
Athenaeum, and the fact that practically all the 
copies made by Stuart are from this picture 
shows how industriously he must have taken 



advantage of the opportunity presented by having 
this portrait ever before him. 

Stuart died in 1828 and was buried in Boston 
Common. He was not only a very rapid but 
a prolific worker. At the exhibition of his 
portraits held in Boston in 1880 there was pub- 
lished a list of his portraits, and although this 
was not complete, it contained over seven hun- 
dred and fifty numbers. 

The whereabouts of the various well-authen- 
ticated portraits of Washington by Stuart are for 
the most part pretty well known, but occasion- 
ally some portrait which is known to exist is 
lost sight of until, by some chance, it is rescued 
from obscurity. The most popular type of 
Washington portrait has ever been, not the 
Washington of the Revolution in a military 
uniform, but Washington, the President. Not 
the man of middle age with a comparatively 
young face, undisturbed by cares and anxieties, 
but the bewigged and powdered gentleman in a 
velvet coat and breeches and with a dress sword 
at his side. No man ever changed more in ap- 
pearance than did Washington between the pe- 
riod of the Revolution and the time of his sec- 
ond administration as President, when he was 
sought after as a subject by the artists of America 



and by some who came across the seas to paint 
his portrait. The distinction of painting the 
great leader was considered one which added 
fame rather to the artist than to the subject. 

In the interesting catalogue of" Engraved Por- 
traits of Washington," published by the Grolier 
Club and edited by Mr. Charles Henry Hart, 
there are described sixty-six engravings of Wash- 
ington after Charles Willson Peale portraits, fifty- 
two after Trumbull, but there are enumerated 
four hundred and forty-one engravings after Stu- 
art ; in brief, there are nearly four times as many 
Stuart prints of Washington as there are of Peale 
and Trumbull combined. 

The Stuart portraits have been cleverly classi- 
fied for the convenience of collectors, into three 
main groups, known after the three principal 
originals which are recognized as having been 
painted from life. These are known as the 
Vaughan type, the Lansdowne type and the Ath- 
enaeum type. Of these, by far the most popu- 
lar, if we are to judge from the number of times 
the portrait has been engraved, is the last-men- 
tioned portrait. From our childhood days we 
have all been brought up on that delightful, 
benign head with the unfinished background, 
called the Athenaeum portrait. The Lans- 



downe type is less well known. Washington sat 
to Stuart for the original of this important full- 
length portrait in 1796. The sitting was ar- 
ranged for at the request of Mrs. Bingham, of 
Philadelphia, as the portrait was intended as a 
present for the Marquis of Lansdowne, after 
whom it has ever since been called. It is now 
in the possession of Lord Rosebery. 

When this picture was finished and sent to 
London, the portrait was engraved by James 
Heath and published in 1 800 without the knowl- 
edge or consent of the artist. It appears that 
Stuart had exacted a promise from Mr. Bingham 
that all rights of copyright should vest in him, 
but through some oversight the matter was neg- 
lected, and great was Stuart's wrath when he dis- 
covered these prints, by Heath, being offered for 
sale in Philadelphia. To add insult to injury, 
the engraver misspelled the artist's name and ac- 
credited the portrait to " Gabriel " Stuart. Miss 
Stuart states that this bitter subject could not be 
mentioned even in later years without her fath- 
er's becoming greatly disturbed and pacing up 
and down the room in anger. The print pos- 
sesses little artistic merit, but the artist felt he 
had suffered great pecuniary loss through the fail- 
ure to obtain copyright protection. This led to 



an open rupture between Mr. and Mrs. Bingham 
and himself. 

As far as his artistic sensibilities are concerned 
he need not have grieved greatly, as full justice 
was done to the picture in the following year, 
when Edward Savage, the most eminent and fa- 
mous of American engravers in mezzotint, pub- 
lished a very handsome reproduction of the 
Lansdowne type. This is without doubt the 
most important mezzotint, both on account of 
size and subject and manner of treatment, of any 
that have been produced in this country. Un- 
fortunately, this was engraved on a very soft piece 
of copper which very quickly wore out, so that 
to-day it is almost impossible to find a really fine 
impression of this important work. The two 
proofs which the writer has seen are very beau- 
tiful, and show the costume with such a soft sur- 
face, that it almost seems as if one could feel the 
warm surface of the velvet. The great impor- 
tance of this print in a collection of Washing- 
ton engravings seems never to have been appre- 
ciated. Not only is it entitled to a premier 
position as a specimen of mezzotint work which 
will bear comparison with the best mezzotints 
of England at a time when the art of engraving 
in this manner was at its height, but it is quite 






remarkable that a plate of this size could have 
been produced at all at that early day, in view of 
the undeveloped state of the art in this country 
at the beginning of the nineteenth century. 
The print measures twenty-seven inches in 
height and twenty and five-tenths inches in 

Edward Savage has never been accorded his 
rightful position as a mezzotint engraver of the 
first order. Not only was he an engraver in 
mezzotint and stipple, but he was an artist of 
considerable merit. His engravings were pub- 
lished towards the close of the eighteenth and 
beginning of the nineteenth century. As works 
of art they have never been rivaled or approached 
by any engraver in this country, and they will 
bear comparison with the work of the great con- 
temporary masters in England. As in the Wash- 
ington portrait, however, the plates were all very 
soft, and no fair estimate can be formed of his 
work unless proofs or very early impressions can 
be procured. 

In the monumental work on the "American 
Engravers on Copper and Steel, ,, edited and com- 
piled by D. McN. Stauffer, and recently published 
by the Grolier Club, the author has reproduced 
*See Hart, No. 293. 



as a type of his work the small portrait of Wash- 
ington by Savage, which is engraved in stipple. 
It seems unfortunate that one of the mezzotint 
plates of this master was not used as being more 
representative of the work of Savage. He was 
surpassed as a stipple engraver by both Tiebout 
and Longacre, but no one in this country ever 
surpassed him as a mezzotint engraver. 

The second most important engraving of the 
Lansdowne type is also a very large print, meas- 
uring twenty-four and four-tenths inches in 
height and sixteen and one-tenth inches in 
width, by an unknown engraver and published 
the same year as the Savage print, viz., July i, 
1801, by Atkins & Nightingale, No. 100 Chest- 
nut Street, Philadelphia (Hart, 292). This print 
was published in black and in colors. A very 
beautiful impression of this mezzotint in proof 
state (before letters), printed in colors, brought 
the record price for a Washington print of 
$1,250 at the sale of Judge Mitchell's collec- 
tion, in 1906. 

The earliest type of all, however, and the one 
which is now most admired by those who have 
made a study of the Washington portraits is 
known as the Vaughan type. It is so called be- 
cause the first portrait ever painted of Washing- 



ton by Stuart was painted for Mr. Samuel 
Vaughan in September, 1795. This portrait 
was sent to London, where Mr. Vaughan re- 
sided, and it was engraved by T. Halloway and 
published in London, November 2, 1796 (Hart, 
259). There is great uncertainty in regard to 
this portrait. In a letter written by Stuart when 
a very old man he makes the statement that the 
portrait painted for Mr. Vaughan was rubbed 
out by him, but later authorities have favored 
the theory that this was an error and that prob- 
ably this portrait is the one now owned by Mrs. 
Joseph Harrison, of Philadelphia. The writer 
has not seen this original, but judging from a 
photographic reproduction it seems to lack the 
stamp of vigor and originality that are found in 
the Scott or the Gibbs-Channing portrait. 

It is not now possible to assert positively which 
of these particular portraits is from life, but both 
the Scott and the Gibbs-Channing portraits pos- 
sess so much quality that there is every reason 
to believe that in any event they must have re- 
ceived finishing touches while Washington was 
posing in the artist's studio. This type differs 
widely from the Athenaeum type in that it 
represents Washington as a somewhat younger 
man and it is more pleasing, as it was painted 



before his features were disfigured by a bad fitting 
set of false teeth, which gave his mouth such 
a hard appearance, and which gives him an un- 
pleasant expression in many of Stuart's portraits. 

Although Stuart painted Washington again 
and again, according to Rembrandt Peale, he 
only painted six portraits of the Vaughan type, 
which shows the right and best side of Wash- 
ington's head. " In the lower part of the face 
it has the advantage over the other portraits that 
he afterwards painted." These were all painted 
in 1795, and they will be specifically mentioned 
later. In 1796 he painted the Lansdowne full- 
length and soon after followed the Athenaeum 

George C. Mason, in his work entitled " The 
Life and Works of Gilbert Stuart," published 
1879, says: "Stuart was overrun with orders for 
portraits from the moment that his picture of 
Washington was painted and although, as shown 
by the list he made out, he had heavy calls for 
copies of his likeness of the President, but few 
of them were at that time filled. When at 
length he began to meet this demand — and this 
was not till 1796 — his copies were all made 
from the picture known as the Athenaeum head, 
which shows the left side of the head." This 





author also writes that the Washington portraits 
may be divided into two classes. " One shows 
the right side of the face — these are the earlier 
pictures, and the other, giving the left side, takes 
in all the portraits painted after April, 1796 — 
the Lansdowne, Constable, Athenaeum and other 
pictures that are generally known as ' Stuart's 
Washingtons.' It is very easy to establish the 
fact that the earlier portraits show only the right 
side of the face, but it is not possible to say now 
which of the earlier portraits is the earliest." 

It will be interesting to enumerate briefly the 
portraits of the type which shows the right side 
of the head. Doubtless one of the most finished 
and beautiful of all is the so-called Gibbs-Chan- 
ning portrait, which belonged to Mr. Samuel 
P. Avery, of New York, and which has just 
been purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of 
Art, where it is now on exhibition. The Mu- 
seum is to be congratulated upon this notable 
acquisition. This portrait has a very clear ped- 
igree. It was sold by Stuart at an early date to 
his warm personal friend, Colonel George Gibbs, 
and is claimed to have been touched up from life. 
Of this there is no proof, however, beyond the 
intrinsic merit of the portrait itself. Colonel 
Gibbs later sold the picture to his sister, Mrs. 



William Ellery Channing, who gave it to her 
son, Dr. William Q^ Channing. Mr. Avery pur- 
chased the portrait from Dr. Channing. In a 
letter which Dr. Channing wrote Mr. Avery he 
makes the following comment, which may be 
said to apply equally to all the six portraits of 
this type : " The venerable A. B. Durand, when 
shown a photograph of it, said, ' That is a like- 
ness. It is much superior in character to the 
Athenaeum portrait and should be considered the 
standard ; both the artist and the subject would 
gain by it.' He also said he wished he could 
have known of it in earlier life, evidently mean- 
ing that he would have engraved it instead of 
the Athenaeum portrait. " 

The canvas, however, which, in the admirable 
work on "Original Portraits of Washington," 
by Miss Elizabeth Bryant Johnston, published in 
1882, receives with the Athenaeum, Gibbs-Chan- 
ning and Vaughan heads the most extended and 
flattering notice, is the portrait reproduced at the 
beginning of this chapter, and recently acquired 
by the writer. Its size is the standard Stuart 
size, 25x30 inches. After critical examination 
of this portrait, which belonged to Mrs. Anna R. 
Reilly, at present living near Trenton, N. J., this 
critic says: " It is painted upon twilled canvas, 



and the nails are also of the same kind that Stuart 
always used. The back-ground is a rich, dark 
red and the portrait, which was once on exhibi- 
tion in New York, is described as being ' a solid 
work, the color good and portraying Washington 
as somewhat younger than in Stuart's other pic- 
tures/ It has never been engraved, but has been 
loaned to the New Haven Art School. This 
picture is another (the authoress has just de- 
scribed the Gibbs-Channing portrait) very beau- 
tiful reproduction of Stuart's first picture, and, 
as Mr. Peale says, the lines of the mouth are 
less objectionable than in the Athenaeum por- 
, trait." 

This portrait has a very complete pedigree, as 
may be seen from the accompanying letter from 
the late owner : 

Trenton, N. J. 

March 30th, 1907. 
Charles Allen Munn, Esq r 

Dear Sir, 

The portrait of General Washington by Gilbert Stu- 
art was purchased from the artist by Mr. Scott, of Lan- 
caster, Penna., and was always considered one of the six 
original portraits. 

Mr. Scott was well known to my family, and at his 
death, my grandfather, Edward Brien of Mattick Iron- 



works, Penna., bought the picture. My grandfather 
was married in 1805, and the picture was purchased 
soon after. My grandfather died very suddenly in 
1 8 16 in his forty-seventh year. His family then re- 
moved to Lancaster, Penna., the portrait then becom- 
ing the property of my grandmother, Dorothy Brien. 
She was a daughter of General Edward Hand. About 
1850, the Historical Society of Baltimore wrote to her, 
and wanted to purchase the Stuart Washington. I 
was a young girl at that time, and I answered the let- 
ter, at my grandmother's dictation, and declined to sell. 
The picture has been exhibited at the Union League 
Club, the Art School in New Haven and in the gallery 
of A. T. Stewart. I have lived in the house with it, 
except on those occasions, all my life. In 1876, an 
article appeared in the " Century " [then called Scrib- 
ner's Monthly] by Miss Stuart, the daughter of the 
artist, in which she stated that one of the most cele- 
brated of her father's portraits could not be accounted 
for. Of course it was our picture and I was urged to 
write, and give an account of it. I was then in great 
affliction, and did not care to write. Miss Stuart urged 
the person who had the portrait to come forward. I 
am sorry now I did not do so. My husband, Mr. Ed- 
ward Reilly, bought the picture from my mother. 

After I became the owner of it I would not allow it 
to go out of my hands. We went to live in New York 
in 1 88 1, and it was wanted for some celebration there 
but I refused to have it go. In 1879, a lady from 
Washington came to New Haven to see the picture, as 
she was writing a history of the Stuart portraits, and 



wanted to put it in her book.* It was then at the Art 
School. She climbed up a ladder to view it closely, 
and then asked permission to have it taken down for 
her to examine the canvas, as Stuart pictures were all 
painted on a certain canvas. She found the canvas all 
right. For the last seven years the portrait has been 
here. Since the death of my son-in-law, Mr. John 
Stockton Hough, I told my daughter Edith, who is 
my only remaining child, that I had left her the por- 
trait in my will, and if she wished to sell it she had bet- 
ter do so during my lifetime, as I could tell all about it. 
Prof. O. C. Marsh, of New Haven, asked a friend 
of mine to induce me to present the Washington to 
Yale. It seems that the six original pictures were four 
with the head one way and two the other. Our pic- 
ture was one of the two. A gentleman in Phila. owns 
the other. He wrote to me about it and came to 
Trenton to see mine, but I was absent and missed him. 
Moreover, I have forgotten his name. Mr. Hough 
knew him. Only for Mr. Hough's violent and sudden 
death in 1890, the portrait of Washington would not 
have been offered for sale. If I have omitted anything 
you wish to know, please write me. 
Sincerely yours, 
(Signed) Anna R. Reilly. 

In another letter Mrs. Reilly writes : " I have 

* The lady referred to was evidently Miss Elizabeth Bryant 
Johnston, the author of that very interesting work, " Origi- 
nal Portraits of Washington,'' published by Messrs. Charles 
Scribner's Sons in 1882. 



lived in the house with that picture nearly all my 
life. I was brought up by my grandmother Brien 
and her two sisters, daughters of General Edward 
Hand, and all I know about its purchase I know 
from them. Mrs. Scott, the wife of the original 
owner, was godmother to one of my great-aunts. 
She (my aunt) lived to be ninety-four.' ' 

Among Stuart's papers was found a list of the 
portraits of the President of the United States 
for which he had already received orders. It 
is dated April 20, 1795. In this list appears the 
name of Mr. Scott, of Lancaster, the original 
owner of this portrait and the person alluded to 
in the letter of Mrs. Reilly. Among others 
in this list are Mr. Vaughan, Benjamin West, 
President of the Royal Academy, Colonel Burr, 
of New York, Mr. Chief Justice Jay, Colonel 
Read and Don Jose de Jaudennes, who gave 
Stuart an order for five portraits of the Presi- 
dent. This liberal patron of art will be recog- 
nized as the original of the beautiful portrait by 
Stuart which has recently (1907) been hung in 
the Metropolitan Museum, together with the 
charming portrait of his youthful American 
bride. One cannot help wondering if these five 
portraits were ever painted and if so, what has 
become of them. 



Another very charming portrait of this same 
type was illustrated in McClure's Magazine for 
February, i 897. This portrait belonged at that 
time to Mr. Charles Henry Hart, who later sold 
it to Mr. Marsden J. Perry, of Providence. Mr. 
Hart claims that this portrait was originally 
painted for Mrs. Bingham, through whose in- 
strumentality the full-length portrait was painted 
and sent to the Marquis of Lansdowne. Mr. 
Hart, in his accompanying notes, says : " A du- 
plicate of this portrait is owned by Mrs. Joseph 
Harrison, of Philadelphia, and these two are the 
only ones of this type known. The beautiful 
Gibbs-Channing portrait ... is different. " 
Mr. Hart was evidently unaware at that time of 
the portrait belonging to Mrs. Reilly and of the 
one belonging to Mr. Rives. It is indeed strange 
that of all the Stuart portraits of Washington ex- 
tant, there should be only these few which are 
of the better type and show the nobler man. Mr. 
Hart says : " Until recently it was an unknown 
type to the general public, but it is gradually com- 
ing to the front, its proper place, and is being 
accepted as a more correct and real portrait of 
Washington than the familiar Athenaeum head. ,, 

Another portrait, which belongs to the same 
type and period of 1795, belongs to Mr. George 



L. Rives, of New York. This portrait is almost 
exactly similar to the Scott portrait, having the 
same background of plain, deep red. It was in- 
herited by Mr. Rives from his father, Mr. 
Francis Rives, who purchased it from Mrs. 
George Rives, of Sherwood, Albemarle County, 
Virginia. Mrs. Rives had inherited the portrait 
from her father, Professor Tucker, of the Uni- 
versity of Virginia, the biographer and friend of 
Jefferson. It is not known how the portrait 
came into the possession of Professor Tucker. 

For purposes of comparison there is repro- 
duced a miniature on ivory painted by Robert 
Field. This miniature is of special interest as 
it contains at the back a lock of Washington's 
hair. This interesting heirloom was presented 
by Mrs. Washington to Tobias Lear, who for 
many years was Washington's secretary and 
trusted friend. It remained in the possession of 
the family until a few years ago, when it was 
acquired by the present owner. 

Probably the best description which has yet 
been published of Gilbert Stuart's style of paint- 
ing will be found in Samuel Isham's " History 
of American Painting," published by the Mac- 
millan Co., New York, 1905: 

" Gilbert Stuart still holds his place among 





our best painters, and even among his great con- 
temporaries in England. His scope was limited. 
While they covered large canvases with full- 
length figures and groups, using every aid of com- 
position and costume to produce their effects, 
and showing the result of this practice even in 
the arrangement of their half-length portraits, 
Stuart painted heads and little besides heads, as 
far as known not a single group, a few full- 
lengths, more half-lengths, a large number of 
what used to be called Kit-Kats — canvases thirty 
by twenty-five inches — and many even smaller 
than that. The heads are placed near the center 
of the canvases, often so near it that the figure, 
which was painted in afterward, is cramped as it 
would not be if the head were higher. There 
is no effort to diversify the attitudes; and the 
costumes, while skilfully and sufficiently done, 
are but accessories to the heads, and there is no 
attempt to make them of important pictorial in- 
terest. The heads themselves are all painted in 
a cool, diffused light, seldom relieved by heavy 
shadows or dark backgrounds. There is noth- 
ing striking, nothing forced ; it is only a head — 
ahead with its ordinary lighting and expression. 
No artifice is used to throw it into undue prom- 
inence. Within these limitations (and they are 



serious ones) they are unsurpassed. No one of his 
contemporaries had a surer feeling for the con- 
struction of a head or a surer insight into char- 
acter. There are contradictory reports of his 
industry or indolence in studying drawing ; but 
whether by industry or nature, he possessed it 
thoroughly, as far as the human features were 

" Where he acquired his technique as a painter 
is even more mysterious. It seems to have been 
original with him. He could have got little 
teaching from Cosmo Alexander in Newport or 
in his erratic life before meeting West. . . . 
Exactly what the influence of his stay in West's 
studio was is difficult to determine ; the obvious 
effects to be looked for he seems to have com- 
pletely escaped. He got no taste for imitating 
the old masters, nor any liking for allegory, nor 
any skill in composition or in the handling of 
large canvases. Dunlap recognized their ' dif- 
ference of opinion and style/ and in connection 
with it mentions the following circumstance 
which took place about 1786 on the occasion of 
a visit to his old master's house and gallery in 
Newman Street: ' Trumbull was painting on a 
portrait, and the writer literally lending him a 
hand by sitting for it. Stuart came in, and his 



opinion was asked as to the coloring, which he 
gave very much in these words : * Pretty well, 
pretty well, but more like our master's flesh than 
nature's. When Benny teaches the boys, he says, 
" Yellow and white there," and he makes a 
streak; "red and white there," another streak; 
" brown and red there for a warm shadow," an- 
other streak; "red and yellow there," another 
streak. But nature does not color in streaks. 
Look at my hand, see how the colors are mot- 
tled and mingled, yet all is clear as silver.' 

"No better description of his own style can 
be given. He paints with an unequaled purity 
and freshness of color, very delicate and sure in 
the half-tones, varying his color to suit the in- 
dividual, but with a pearly brightness which is 
characteristic. The paint is put on thinly, as a 
rule, in short, decided touches without heavy 
impasto, 'mingled and mottled,' as he himself 
says, and his execution was surprisingly sure. 
Two or three sittings sufficed for a head, which 
he painted at once in its true colors, distributing 
the paint as little as possible after it was on the 
canvas, and without resorting to the glazings and 
varnishings so much in vogue in England. This 
sureness of touch was the more remarkable be- 
cause even in his youth Stuart's hand was trem- 



bling and unsteady ; and in his later years, when 
some of his best work was done, an eye-witness 
says that 'his hand shook so that it seemed im- 
possible that he could paint. The last time I 
saw him I think he was painting the portrait of 
Josiah Quincy (in 1824). Stuart stood with his 
wrist upon the rest, his hand vibrating, and, when 
it became tolerably steady, with a sudden dash 
of the brush he put the color on the canvas/ 

" The brilliancy and preservation of his works 
to-day attest the soundness of his practice. He 
painted with a restricted palette which the cu- 
rious may find in Dunlap and Mason, with his 
method of setting it ; but let them not hope to 
produce the same results. Stuart's style was his 
own. He did not learn it from others, and 
though he gave advice freely and generously, he 
could not teach it to any successor." 

In Mason's "Life of Stuart " above referred 
to, appears the following quotation from Miss 
Jane Stuart, the daughter of the great master. 
She says : 

" I am frequently asked by young artists to 
give them some account of my father's method 
of painting ; this I am quite willing to do, so far 
as my early recollection will permit ; but I have 
not the presumption to attempt to explain his 



wonderful effects, which were peculiar to him- 
self; nor do I believe they could be transmitted. 

" The impression I have received from a study 
of Stuart's heads is that his success was due in a 
great measure to his wonderful perceptive facul- 
ties. As he was quick to read the character of 
a sitter, so had he a clear insight into the color 
of his complexion, and never was he known to 
fail in this particular. 

" He commenced a portrait by drawing the 
head and features, and then he sketched in the 
general tone of the complexion ; for this he sel- 
dom required more than four or five sittings, and 
frequently it was done in three sittings. The 
picture was never touched except when the sitter 
was in the chair. At the second sitting he in- 
troduced transparent flesh-tints, at the third he 
began to awaken it into life and give it expres- 
sion, and then the individuality of the sitter came 
out. This was always done quickly. In the por- 
traits of men advanced in life, where the round- 
ness of youth is gone, we can almost fancy that 
he has given motion to the features. . . . 

" It has been said by some critics that his col- 
oring was too strong — that there was too great 
a preponderance of carnation in his flesh-tints ; 
to this I cannot subscribe. Stuart did not rely 



on or require strong colors to produce his ef- 
fects, for he had the faculty of bringing out his 
heads simply by the use of middle tints and tones, 
giving all the required rotundity and relief with- 
out the assistance of black shadows and heavy 
backgrounds; and yet the faces so painted are 
full of character and expression. In his work 
there is no appearance of labor, but everything 
that he did showed force and energy — so long 
as he kept to the head. When that was com- 
pleted his enthusiasm seems to have abated. 
With some notable exceptions, the other parts 
of his pictures were painted but indifferently ; 
but if he particularly fancied the subject, or the 
sitter was one in whom he took more than his 
usual interest, he worked with the greatest care 
to the end. In his draperies he was exceedingly 
careless, but he amused himself at times by paint- 
ing lace, showing with a few bold touches of his 
pencil how easy it is to produce an effect when 
one understands what he is about. But if any 
one of his intimate friends took him to task for 
carelessness in rubbing in the accessories in a por- 
trait, he at once replied, € I copy the works of 
God, and leave clothes to tailors and mantua- 
makers.' " 



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