October 19, 2017

Gilbert Stuart

In the Boston Common's Graveyard is a gravestone that stands out among all the other ones. It belongs to Gilbert Stuart.

Gibert Stuart has quite a story

Gilbert Stuart Grave

Thirteen things I learned about Gilbert Stuart

  • Born in 1755 in North Kingston County Rhode Island. Stuart's birthplace in Saunderstown, Rhode Island is open to the public as the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum. The museum consists of the original house Stuart was born in, with copies of some of his popular paintings from throughout his career hanging throughout the house.
  • In 1786, he married Charlotte Coates of Reading, Berkshire. They had 12 children together.
  • No one knows how many pictures that Stuart painted in his lifetime. Frick Art Reference Library has attempted to list Stuart's complete work.
  • He painted many famous Americans including President Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Monroe, General Henry Lee, Robert Paine, Paul Revere and much more.
  • He is most known for various George Washington paintings. He did three separate seatings with the first American President. A replica painted by Stuart is on display in the East Room of the White House
  • One of Stuart's portrait of Washington, called the "Unfinished Portrait," was also the model used on the dollar bill. You can see the original painting in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It's located in the Americans Collection.It's currently jointly owned by the Museum of Fine Arts and National Portrait Gallery. When you're at the museum, take out a dollar bill and compare it to the painting.
  • If you go to the Massachusetts State House and to the Governor's waiting room, You'll see an unfinished copy of the George Washington painting. It was copied by Francis Alexander from an original painted by Gilbert Stuart.
  • On November 17, 1988 - A copy of "A Portrait of George Washington" was sold at Sotheby's in London for $495,000. Some experts question whether this was an original or just a copy.
  • He died on July 9, 1828, and was buried the next day at Central Burying Ground in the Boston Commons. He died a poor man and the family couldn't afford a gravestone. Once the family got their finances settled they couldn't remember where he was buried. Thus, the current gravestone marker is not likely where Gilbert Stuart is actually located.
  • In 1898, a bronze plaque was placed on the gate of the Central Burying Grounds by "The Paint and Clay club"
  • Special gravestone was placed in 1975. Didn't find any specific reason for the gravestone change. You can see the 1975 date on the gravestone.
  • In 1851, the United States issued a George Washington 12 cent stamp based on Gilbert Stuart.
  • United States Post Office honored Gilbert Stuart with a 1 cent stamp on September 5, 1940.

You can learn more about Gilbert Stuart history at the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum.

Finding the Gravestone

The Gilbert Stuart gravestone is located in Central Burying Grounds in the Boston Commons. Directly across from the GrubStreet. You can read more about Central Burial Grounds from my post last year.

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