Gilbert Stuart (American, North Kingston, Rhode Island 1755–1828 Boston, Massachusetts)
Oil on canvas
28 1/2 x 23 1/2 in. (72.3 x 59.7 cm)
Bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness, 1950
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774
This portrait seems to have been begun as a rectangle and then changed to an oval format. It is one of Stuart’s most virtuosic paintings, clearly from his first years in London, but both its date and the identity of the sitter are unknown. The vague, brushy treatment of the background has raised the suggestion that the work is unfinished. Yet it seems rather to be inspired by Thomas Gainsborough, whose paintings the young American certainly saw and admired in England. Gainsborough also favored oval portraits and such light pastel colors as the pleasing green of the young sitter’s coat.
George Sitwell Campbell Swinton, London, 1920; with M. Knoedler and Company, London, 1920; Edward S. Harkness, New York, 1920–1940; his wife, Mary Stillman Harkness, 1940–1950