Download On desperate seas: a biography of Gilbert Stuart by James T. Flexner PDF

By James T. Flexner

This can be Flexner's portrait of Gilbert Stuart, painter of George Washington, and different founding fathers, who as soon as shied clear of a self-portrait he had all started to thrill his bride. Flexner provides us with a portrait built because the artist may have developed it, frank, with out flattery, profound, and soul-stirring. a guy as soon as considered as the possible successor of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Stuart used to be born in poverty in Rhode Island. He grew to become via his artwork the intimate of the good of 2 continents. but, he by no means deserted his disdain for worldly rank, or his fascination with personality. He made large sums in England yet spent much more in dissipation. felony yawned for him, and he fled his collectors. in the course of his thirty-five American years, he painted with brilliance, making a detailed portrait demeanour. His rank as an artist was once by no means puzzled, yet his nerves wouldn't quiet. He drank, fought together with his spouse, and tortured his young ones. Stuart died as he lived: recognized and bankrupt.

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In a year or so Brown was to run away from his grandfather and wander with a knapsack on his back through the countryside in a successful effort to make enough money as an itinerant painter of miniatures to follow his instructor to London. During June or July 1775, at about the time of the Battle of Bunker Hill, Stuart left behind him his embattled homeland. He had set out for the British Isles before, in the company of a distinguished and powerful patron, but the result had been tragedy. Now he was alone, with only enough money in his pocket to keep him a few weeks in the British capital.

His heroic compositions from ancient and modern history exemplified such qualities as filial piety or patriotism. " Seeing "a necessary connection between art and virtue," West, who considered himself the greatest of living painters, felt that he also had to be the most moral of men. He made fewer demands on others than on himself; tolerance was part of his code as well Page 46 as generosity; and thus he befriended the wild-looking young man, as he befriended many another dissipated beginner. He found Stuart lodgings near his studio, at Number 27 on Villiers Street, a narrow lane of small houses running from the Strand to the muddy brink of the Thames (there was no embankment in those days).

West could read plain on this striking countenance the marks of dissipation. If Stuart matched his manner to his clothes, he was very grand, now that after more than a year of tribulation he had humiliated himself by appealing to the King's painter. He boasted of having swept Newport off its feet with his stunning portraits, handled his snuffbox with an air, and mentioned some great names. Since West had left America in 1760, he was unable to judge the young man's veracity; he listened with increasing doubt.

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