The Lansdowne Portrait Analysis

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The Lansdowne portrait is a famous painting of George Washington which now resides in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. (George, np). The painting itself has become a national symbol of America and the freedom of democracy. The mastermind behind the painting, Gilbert Stuart, used subtle symbolism to evoke a sense of freedom and triumph in order to portray Washington as the ultimate American and the father of freedom. Gilbert Stuart was a native to the colonies of early America. He was born in Rhode Island in 1755 (Cotner, 809). He began training as a painter under the tutelage of Cosmo Alexander, a popular portraitist of the time. Taking after his mentor, Stuart quickly gained fame as a talented painter and was commissioned for many portraits. Soon he became the preferred portraitist amongst the famous and the wealthy in the early United States. He was paid to paint wealthy American lawyers, …show more content…
The painting was made in 1796, less than ten years after the end of the American Revolution (Dambre, np). America did not want to see its leader painted as a king. On the contrary, Americans were doing everything in their power to get away from the rule of kings. So, Gilbert Stuart was tasked with creating a painting that demonstrated Washington’s leadership without displaying him as an absolute monarch. What’s more, Stuart was commissioned by William Bingham as a present for the first marquis of Lansdowne who had been a supporter of the American cause in British parliament during the Revolutionary War (George, np). The painting was meant as a huge symbol of appreciation and gratitude toward the marquis, as well as a subtle message that he had chosen the righteous path (George, np). Today, however, most of the message of gratitude is lost and the painting serves mainly as a symbol of America and the freedom the country

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