THE WORLD OF SAMUEL MEEKER, MERCHANT OF PHILADELPHIA, AND GILBERT STUART, AMERICAN PORTRAIT ARTIST
Sunday, September 20, 2009
This iconic masterpainter one day disappeared from the grand digs in London, and the suggestion is that the sudden and secret flight of the artist and family was to escape pressing debts. Finally he turned up in Dublin at the apparent invitation of the Duke of Rutland, who inconveniently passed away at the same time as our Gibby and family arrived. Shockingly, Gilbert landed into debtors prison but recovered his animal spirits by setting up his easel behind bars, and the local gentry flocked there to have their portrait painted.
The artist lived for a time in the city but soon bought a farm at Stillorgan. Here he was able to tend to his garden and farm animals, including his beloved pigs. J.D. Herbert is an important source on Stuart's Irish years (about 1787-1793). Herbert visited Stillorgan and relates the following;
"He then took me to his garden, which was well-cropped, all by his own hands, walked me over the grounds, and pointed out his skill in farming......I cordially confessed that I should rather see his works in his painting-room, that I was ignorant of farming, gardening, or feeding pigs. He pitied me very much, observing what a loss I sustained by not attending to the cultivation of that on which mankind were supported and rendered wealthy and powerful." Herbert found that the artist was more pleased by praise of his "very pretty pigs" than by "anything I could say in praise of his pictures."
next... more on the pigs
at 12:52 PM