James Monroe

Artist: Gilbert Stuart (American, North Kingston, Rhode Island 1755–1828 Boston, Massachusetts)

Date: ca. 1820–22

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 40 1/4 x 32 in. (102.2 x 81.3 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Seth Low, 1916

Accession Number: 29.89


The fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, was a Virginian who enjoyed the advantages of being the disciple and political protégé of Thomas Jefferson. Before becoming president, he had held many diplomatic posts, including service as ambassador to France and to England. The year after this picture was completed, he issued the famous Monroe Doctrine, a statement against any intervention from foreign governments in the affairs of the hemisphere. The three-quarter pose at a desk with books and papers, the billowing drapery, and the liberal use of strong, pure red are all elements of a formula that Stuart, like the Spanish Goya, frequently employed in portraits of statesman.