Portrait of the Artist

Gilbert Stuart (American, North Kingston, Rhode Island 1755–1828 Boston, Massachusetts)
ca. 1786
Oil on canvas
10 5/8 x 8 7/8 in. (27 x 22.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1926
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774
Preserved on a label found on the back of this picture are excerpts from a letter dated December 6, 1884, in which Jane Stuart, the artist's youngest daughter, wrote of the work and her father, "He painted a small sketch of himself for my mother (in London after great persuasion) but could not be induced to finish it." This suggests that the portrait was painted when Stuart was about age thirty, shortly after his marriage to Charlotte Coates on May 10, 1786. Stuart's sketchily indicated tousled hair and sunken eyes emphasize both his proud and irritable character and his working method.
Mrs. Gilbert Stuart, Boston; her daughter, Jane Stuart, Boston; Mrs. Harrison Gray Otis, Boston, died 1873; possibly her son, Harrison Gray Otis, died ca. 1883; Estate of Mrs. Harrison Gray Otis, Boston, 1883–1922; Albert Rosenthal, Philadelphia, 1925–1926; with Ehrich Galleries, New York, 1926