Portrait of the Artist

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

Date: ca. 1786

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 10 5/8 x 8 7/8 in. (27 x 22.5 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1926

Accession Number: 26.16


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.