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George Washington Pictures

Welcome to our growing collection of George Washington Pictures. This page features the history of the most famous George Washington paintings. You will learn about the artists who painted them, the circumstances that led to the paintings and the history of the paintings since they were created.

Our collection starts with the pictures of George Washington painted by Gilbert Stuart, an American born artist from Rhode Island who was one of the most pre-eminent painters during the Founding era. He painted the first five presidents, as well as many other notable people, such as John Jay, Henry Knox and Dolley Madison.

The Vaughan Portrait - March 1795

The Vaughan Portrait was the first George Washington picture painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1795. It receives its name from Samuel Vaughan, an American born merchant living in London, who was the recipient of the first copy of the painting. Stuart never sold the original, but kept it and used it to paint copies from, which he then sold. There are at least 17 known copies painted by Stuart himself. Other artists copied it as well, dozens and dozens of times. Later versions, even those painted by Stuart himself, looked quite different as the artist experimented and deviated from the original. These later paintings would shape Washington's head differently or use different background colors. In particular, Stuart began replacing the head with his famous Athenaeum Portrait of Washington because he thought it was a better likeness of the President. Many of these copies still exist today in various institutions. Washington sat for Stuart two more times, resulting in the Lansdowne Portrait and the Athenaeum Portrait. Stuart was the most reknown portrait artist in early America. Read more about the history of the Vaughan Portrait here.

Vaughan Portrait by Gilbert Stuart

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Vaughan Portrait by
Gilbert Stuart

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Lansdowne Portrait by Gilbert Stuart

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Lansdowne Portrait by
Gilbert Stuart

Order yours from:
Art.com       1st Art Gallery

Lansdowne Portrait by Gilbert Stuart - April 1796

This is the Lansdowne Portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart. It received it's name from the Marquis of Lansdowne for whom the portrait was commissioned by William Bingham, a Philadelphia businessman. It was painted in 1796 by Stuart, one of the best artists of the day. George Washington sat for Stuart for three different paintings. Each painting was reproduced by Stuart and others numerous times. The original Lansdowne is now in the possession of the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Two others exist as well, one in the possession of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts and one at the Brooklyn Museum. The authenticity of a third copy at the White House is in question, though most art experts seem to believe it was painted by Stuart. There is a lot more to the history of this famous painting, which you can learn more about at our Lansdowne Portrait page.

The Athenaeum Portrait, 1796

The Athenaeum Portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart derives its name from the Boston Athenaeum, a library and museum that owned the painting for many years. It is unquestionably the most famous portrait of George Washington. It was painted by Stuart some time in late 1796 at the request of Martha Washington. She wanted paintings both of George and of herself for their home at Mount Vernon. This was the third time George Washington sat for the painter in two years. Stuart was known to be dishonest and lazy in business dealings, despite his excellent painting skills. In keeping with his character, after finishing the faces only, Stuart decided to keep the originals so he could paint copies from which he could earn a great deal of money. The Washingtons inquired many times from Stuart about whether or not the paintings were finished, but Stuart kept making excuses and painting copies he would sell for a hundred dollars a piece. The Washingtons eventually gave up and Martha bought one of the copies! You can learn more about the history of the Athenaeum Portrait here.

Athenaeum Portrait by Gilbert Stuart

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Athenaeum Portrait by
Gilbert Stuart

Order yours from:
Art.com     1st Art Gallery

Published 5/17/12

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