“Gilbert Stuart: From Boston to Brunswick” Closes Soon

"Portrait of Mrs. Thomas C. Upham (née Phoebe Lord)," ca. 1823, oil on canvas, by Gilbert Stuart. Gift of Edward D. Jameson. Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

“Portrait of Mrs. Thomas C. Upham (née Phoebe Lord),” ca. 1823, oil on canvas, by Gilbert Stuart. Gift of Edward D. Jameson. Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

This past fall the Museum has featured its eight paintings by Gilbert Stuart in a special exhibition, Gilbert Stuart: From Boston to Brunswick. In addition to these remarkable portraits, the exhibition includes five early lithographs based on his presidential portraits and other related works by Stuart’s contemporaries. The Museum has also borrowed Stuart’s palette and his box of drawing instruments from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition explores Stuart’s time in Boston, where he would spend the last twenty-three years of his life. Born in Rhode Island and mentored by Benjamin West in London, Stuart built a reputation as the preeminent portraitist of the early republic. His likenesses of the period’s political, military, and civic leaders set the standard for dignity and elegance. At the time of his move from Washington, D.C. to Boston in 1805, he was in the midst of completing portraits of President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State James Madison, a commission from James Bowdoin III, the College’s first benefactor. Bowdoin bequeathed these portraits to the College in 1811, and they have served as a centerpiece of its art collection ever since. Though Stuart rarely traveled during his Boston years, he journeyed to Brunswick in 1821 to make painted copies of his famous portraits for an exhibition in Boston. This installation explores Stuart’s work during this period, his trip to Maine, and his relationship with other artists in Boston. It also argues for his centrality in constructing a pantheon of American likeness and achievement. Please be sure to see the exhibition before it closes on January 3.

 

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