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FrontRunners: Met Doubleheader

Marilyn Jackson

The father of American portraiture and the father of the United States of America are featured in two complementary exhibits this winter at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (www.metmuseum.org). Gilbert Stuart, the most popular American portraitist of his day (1755–1828), painted everyone who was anyone—including George Washington more than 100 times. It is said that when the president first sat for Stuart in 1795, Washington seemed bored with the process. However, Stuart’s painting belies his subject’s disposition, capturing the man’s dignity rather than his ennui. In addition to this and several other Washington portraits, Gilbert Stuart, shown through January 16, 2005, includes early Stuart portraits produced in Newport, R.I., and those painted just before his death. Also at the Met, through February 27, is George Washington: Man, Myth, Monument, a selection from the museum’s collections of various artists’ paintings, drawings, sculptures, and decorative arts depicting the war hero and president.

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