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George Washington

Gilbert Stuart

American Art

On View: American Identities: A New Look, American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, From Colonies to States, 1660–1830, 5th Floor
Gilbert Stuart portrayed George Washington several times in this stately, full-length English portrait format, known as the Grand Manner. Representing Washington in the classical pose of an orator (with arm extended), Stuart added a sword, symbolic of the first president’s military victories. The dramatic setting of columns and billowing drapery is typical of European Grand Manner portraits (in particular, a seventeenth-century French work by Hyacinthe Rigaud), but Stuart included American details such as the books leaning against the table leg. The added symbolism of the rainbow in the background referred to the era of peace following the Revolution, during Washington’s terms as president.

Stuart’s portrait was copied many times, and his original was reproduced in a popular print that led to the image’s fame.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1796
DIMENSIONS 96 1/4 x 60 1/4 in. (244.5 x 153 cm) frame: 114 1/4 x 78 1/4 x 6 in. (290.2 x 198.8 x 15.2 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Unsigned
COLLECTIONS American Art
ACCESSION NUMBER 45.179
CREDIT LINE Dick S. Ramsay Fund and Museum Purchase Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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CAPTION Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755-1828). George Washington, 1796. Oil on canvas, 96 1/4 x 60 1/4 in. (244.5 x 153 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund and Museum Purchase Fund, 45.179
IMAGE x-ray, detail, CONS.45.179_1988_xrs_detail05.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 1988
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RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (91%)
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