Lansdowne Portrait of Gilbert Stuart

Lansdowne Portrait of Gilbert Stuart
Lansdowne Portrait of Gilbert Stuart

George Washington, the first president of the United States, is undoubtedly one of the most represented historical figures of that country. He can be seen in large sculptures such as the one made by the Frenchman Houdon, or in paintings that present him fighting for independence, such as in the work Washington crosses the Delaware byEmanuel Leutze.


Portrait of George Washington or Lansdowne Portrait of Gilbert Stuart

In fact, even the American capital bears his last name and there stands one of the most charismatic monuments in his honor in the entire country. Well, one of the most famous images of a George Washington already president is this painting that Gilbert Stuart painted in 1796 and which is exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery that is in the Smithsonian Institution in the capital, although there is a replica in the White House.

The work is known as the Lansdowne Portrait, which is due to the peculiar history of the canvas. It was commissioned by a senator from Pennsylvania, who decided to give it to the British Prime Minister, W. P. Fitzmaurice, who from the beginning was sympathetic to the independence of the colonies, and who became Marquis of Lansdowne. He kept it until his death, but over time it was given to the American gallery

There the imageIt fulfills the function of showing a complete portrait of the man who became the leader of an entire nation. And it is that Gilbert Stuart (1755 – 1828) was inspired by the portraits of European monarchs, but adapting it to a character who dresses him in civilian clothes, capable of being a great speaker due to his pose, but also a commander in chief, in fact carries his sword.

The image has symbols such as the American eagle carved on the table leg, or the oval top with stars and stripes on the armchair where the character usually sits.

The atmosphere is very official, due to the decoration based on a large curtain and the columns of the room, all open to the outside where a large rainbow can be seen, which we must interpret as the prosperity that arrives after the storm of war.

Stuartwithout a doubt one of the best portrait painters of his time. He represented several early American presidents, and Washington himself was painted on several occasions, including once in the famous unfinished portrait of him. This is thanks to a long training inEngland, where he came to compete with the main English masters. However, even though he earned a lot of money, he spent uncontrollably, so when he accumulated a lot of debt, he had to run away and ended up returning to the US

There he did not lack prestige and well-paid work, but at his death, in addition to some of the best portraits of the time, he left a good amount of debt. So many that his family could not even afford a grave for the artist whohe immortalized the great men of his time.

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