Comparison of Painting of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart and Charles Willson Peale

738 Words 3 Pages
On Saturday, March 15, 2014, I visited the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The gallery #753, which is a part of so-called American Wing, features oil paintings of the revolutionary period in America. The paintings seen in this gallery celebrate heroes and hard-fought battles of the new nation. The most popular type of painting of that time remained portraiture. Portraits in extremely large numbers figured in interiors, where they were arranged to convey not only domestic, but political messages as well. Hence, it is natural, that such iconic figure like George Washington became a model for numerous artists of that era, including Gilbert Stuart and Charles Willson Peale, for whom Washington actually sat. Two exceptional portraits of …show more content…
As Seller notes, this painting "seems to have been painted for someone who preferred to memorialize that famous Christmas night, rather the culminating and strategically more brilliant action at Princeton" (Seller 153). Peale made a trip to the Trenton and Princeton battlefields to sketch appropriate and authentic background scenes (Sellers 169). Another difference from other versions of this painting is that instead of his heavy battle sword, which he wore throughout his active service, Washington wears an elegant rapier, known as a "dress sword", reserved for formal occasions (Sellers 147). Peale had also changed military insignia, since he was eager to keep each picture up-to date (Sellers 169). The depiction of Washington is strongly realistic and contemporary critics called the portrait a striking likeness (Luhrs 127). Gilbert Stuart painted a life portrait of George Washington as well. However, since it was painted later, in 1795, Washington depicted not as a war hero, but as a chief executive of the United States. Stuart was the most successful portraitist of America's early national period and possessed natural talent to represent human likeness and character (Luhrs 163). The Chief Justice recommended the artist to Washington and Stuart was invited to the one of Mrs. Washington's Friday receptions. Stuart was surprised when the president introduced

Related Documents