Portrait, George Washington After Gilbert Stuart’s Gibbs-Channing-Avery

Portrait, George Washington After Gilbert Stuart’s Gibbs-Channing-Avery

The Vaughn-type portrait of George Washington is one of three Washington portrait compositional types painted by Stuart. The other two are the Athenaeum type, an unfinished head, much replicated notably in a United States postage stamp, and the Lansdowne type, showing Washington standing with his hand resting on a table. Along with Emanuel Leutze’s mid-1800’s genre painting of Washington crossing the Delaware River, these are the three most famous portrayals of the paramount American leader. Washington was revered as the “Father of Our Country” during his lifetime, and that sentiment persists to the present day. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Gibbs-Channing-Avery portrait is universally considered the best version of the Vaughn-type Washington portrait. It is one of just a couple to have the green drapery/landscape background (others have a rust/orange background) and Stuart is masterful in his capture of Washington’s personality.

This beautifully rendered miniature replica of Gilbert Stuart’s Vaughn-type portrait of George Washington (Metropolitan Museum of Art) is intriguing for several reasons. One: it does not show the entire picture field but instead cuts off a substantial portion of the bottom and the right side of the composition, while replicating the distinctive olive-green background curtain color and costume details, notably the sawtooth hair bow, and high collared black velvet jacket. Two: Washington is portrayed at a significantly younger age than in Stuart’s iconic painting. Three: the pupils of Washington’s eyes are far larger with a noticeable intense blue color. The original has a “beady-eyed” look. This small and freely-brushed likeness is thus not an attempt to exactly copy Stuart’s painting but perhaps an artist’s desire to experiment with improving it. Four: the painting is a miniature. This suggests that the painter was a professional miniature painter who would have had access to the original painting as the period of creation is too early to allow for exact photographic reproduction for use as a model. An engraving of the Vaughn-type portrait was made around the time of its completion, but this was black and white and wouldn’t have recorded the color scheme. The miniature is not signed, and interestingly, neither did Stuart typically sign his work, convinced that the quality of his painting required no means of official identification. One could speculate that a talented professional artist with an expertise in miniature painting and a particular interest in painting Washington created this piece as an exercise rather than a formal project, as the rendition is thinly painted and freely brushed. This would account for the lack of a signature.

Item Date: Circa 1830

Estimated Year: 1830

Measurement: Portrait: 3.25" x 4"; Frame: 6.75" x 7.5"

Material: Oil paint on wood panel

Item Condition: Excellent, our framer installed the painting it its current frame; we will include the frame in which it was housed for 100+ years as part of its history.

Price: $2,450

SKU 1292-8

For More Information, Please Contact David Hillier at 978-597-8084 or email drh@aaawt.com.

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