Gilbert Stuart (American, 17551828)
Oil on canvas; 50 x 40 in. (127 x 101.6 cm)
Purchase, Henry R. Luce Gift, Elihu Root, Jr. Bequest, Rogers Fund, Maria DeWitt Jesup Fund, Morris K. Jesup Fund and Charles and Anita Blatt Gift, 1970 (1970.262)
Louis-Marie, the vicomte de Noailles (17561804), sympathized with the political aims of the American Revolution and eventually played a key role in the Yorktown campaign. He returned to France, where he was elected to the Estates Général. Although president of the National Assembly and an active participant in France's military struggles, Noailles fled the reign of terror. In 1793, he emigrated to Philadelphia, where he joined the banking firm of Bingham and Co. and maintained a friendship with President George Washington This is one of Stuart's only small full-length portraits. In a complex composition with overtones of a memento mori, Stuart has represented Noailles in full military regalia, standing on a bluff with a battle raging in the distance.