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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

George Washington [The Constable-Hamilton Portrait]

Artist: Gilbert Stuart (1755 - 1828)
Date: 1797
50 x 40 in. (127 x 101.6 cm)
Framed: 59 in. × 46 3/4 in. × 4 1/2 in.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2005.27
verso, on stretcher: ...155 / Hamilton [old paper label]
verso, on stretcher: Clea...2/8/9[5?]...with... [fragmentary paper label]

Not on View
Accession Number: 2005.27
Provenancecommissioned by William Kerin Constable [1752-1803] as a gift for Alexander Hamilton [1757-1804], 1797; to Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton [1757-1854] (his wife), 1804; to James Alexander Hamilton [1788-1878] (their son), 1854; to Alexander Hamilton [1816-1889] (his son), 1878; to Angelica Livingston Hamilton [1820-1896] (his wife), 1889; by bequest to The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations, 1896; to (Sotheby's, Inc., New York, NY), November 30, 2005, lot 3; purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2005
Label TextStuart's portraits of George Washington have become the iconic likenesses of him. The image on the one-dollar bill is based on a Stuart portrait.

Whereas Charles Willson Peale painted George Washington on the battlefield, Stuart depicted the president at work. Although here he wears a suit instead of an army uniform, the sword on his lap indicates the president's military role, while the document signed "G. Washington" signifies his position as lawmaker and diplomat.

Evidence suggests that the signed document relates to the Jay Treaty (1796). In the background of Stuart's painting, several ships, one of which flies an American flag, battle over issues of trade not addressed at the end of the American Revolution. The Jay Treaty prevented such skirmishes and provided for peaceful commerce between the United States and Britain. Alexander Hamilton promoted that treaty. This painting was given to Hamilton by William Constable, who was active in early American politics.