American portrait painter, born in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Gilbert Stuart grew up in nearby Newport, where he studied painting before going briefly to Edinburgh in the early 1770s and to London in 1775. In London he became the pupil of expatriate American painter Benjamin West and was greatly influenced by the work of English portrait painters Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds. In 1792, after having established himself as a fashionable portraitist in London and Dublin, Stuart decided to return to the United States, where he achieved lasting fame.
Stuart is particularly renowned for his portraits of American revolutionary hero and statesman George Washington. The three types of Washington portraits created by Stuart were extensively reproduced in his studio: the "Vaughan" half-length type (1795), the "Lansdowne" full-length type (1796), and the "Athenaeum" head type (1796; unfinished original owned jointly by National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), which appears on the American $1 bill. Stuart also executed portraits of American presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, as well as of the British kings George III and George IV. His oeuvre comprises nearly 1000 portraits.
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