Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jane Stuart, daughter of Gilbert Stuart; an artist in her own right & 'irritable temperament'...

Mrs. William Bailey, by Jane Stuart
courtesy Redwood Library and Athenaeum

The Stark Mansion: "Flowers, books, old-fashioned furniture, and pictures of the choicest are everywhere. A fine portrait of General John Stark, painted in 1830 by S. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, is hung on the wall at the right. Facing the door another beautiful portrait is seen. This is of Miss Charlotte Stark and was done by Jane Stuart, the daughter of Gilbert Stuart." (The third picture is of Daniel Webster, who had his miniature done by Goodridge as you, my readers, might remember!) Historic Homes of New England, Mary Northend; Little, Brown, & Co., Boston, 1914.

As a young girl Jane would go to her father's studio to help him with chores including the grinding of pigments. She would listen to her father instructing his students, and in time she started copying some of his paintings. In 1827 she had one of her paintings exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum. She was 15. When her father died the next year, deeply in debt and leaving an estate valued at only $375, Jane became financially responsible for the family and began selling copies of her father's paintings, particularly portraits of Washington.

The Redwood Library (Redwood Library and Athenaeum, 50 Bellevue Ave., Newport RI) has organized what may be the first exhibit of Jane Stuart’s paintings since her death 1888. It ends soon!

Newport's Own: Portraits by Jane Stuart

"A collaborative exhibition of the work of artist Jane Stuart (1808 - 1888) by the Redwood, Newport Historical Society, Preservation Society of Newport County, with additional paintings on loan from the Newport Art Museum, the Boston Athenaeum, the Museum of Art RISD, Peabody Essex Museum, and the State of Rhode Island. Guest curated by Linda Eppich, Archivist / Grant Writer at The Preservation Society of Newport County. Covering the period of the 1840s to the late 1870s, the exhibition includes 16 original portraits and copy work by Jane Stuart, plus biographical information about the sitters. The 12th child of Gilbert and Charlotte Stuart, she was a leading portrait painter in Newport. Although she never received any formal training, she was a key assistant to and regarded as the best copyist of Gilbert Stuart. Jane Stuart exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum as early as 1827, and had an exhibition at the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York in 1833. We are unaware of any exhibition devoted to Jane Stuart since her death in 1888, and this exhibition is an attempt to bring greater recognition to this 19th century artist."
From Curator Linda Eppich: "In addition to her painting, Jane was also the keeper of her father’s flame. In fact, much of what we know about Gilbert Stuart comes from a series of reminiscences written by Jane and published in Scribner’s Monthly magazine. In one such article, titled “Anecdotes of Gilbert Stuart,” Jane concedes that her father had an “irritable temperament,” but justifies it by pointing to the constant flow of visitors that passed through his studio. “While he was engaged with his whole soul in portraying the character of some remarkable person, his door would be besieged by persons who must see him, and, frequently, for the most trifling purpose,” she recalled. “At times he would be so disturbed as not to feel like going into his painting-room again for the whole day.”
I'm sure we can ....all ...relate!


Maureen said...

Can't decide which startled me more, her being their 12th (!!) child or the portrait being painted by S. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph!

The Clever Pup said...

I LOVE finding out about female painters from earlier days. What a story! Can you imagine painting in all that clothing. No messy denim shirt for her. No wonder she was irritablein all thar clobber.

MGM said...

I inherited a Jane Stuart portrait of an ancestor and although it is quite impressive, it is quite somber.

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