Purchased at auction in 1938 at Plaza Art Galleries, from the Estate of John Meredith Read, Lot # 120 in New York by the great-grandmother of the most recent owner.
Exhibition: Annual Early American Art, Ferargil Galleries, New York, October 1941
|Description: ||Label on stretcher verso (handwritten): "[J] Meredith Read"|
Pre-printed label on stretcher pertaining to Colonel James Read.
The youngest daughter of famous portraitist Gilbert Stuart, Jane also became a noted portraitist from a studio in Boston and did numerous copies of her father's well-known paintings of George Washington. Other artists also copied these portraits, but hers are credited with being some of the best including the one in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Jane showed art talent as a child but instead of being encouraging, her father tried to suppress her creativity in order to keep her as his assistant to grind colors and fill in his backgrounds. It was often suggested that Jane finished a good number of her father’s paintings, which was common practice in the 19th century. Gilbert Stuart also wasn’t the easiest man to get along with. The famed portraitist drank too much, flew into uncontrollable rages and frittered away most of the fortune he earned from painting the likes of George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Jane spent much of her life defending her father’s reputation and turning out copies of his most famous works. When her father died penniless, she became the sole support of the family although she was the youngest of 12 children.
In addition to portraits, Jane also painted some quaint, narrative genre works. In 1850, her studio burned, which destroyed much of her painting as well as most of the correspondence and mementoes of her father's life. However, Jane continued to paint and entertain in Newport, Rhode Island late into her life.
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