Who does George Washington belong to? His most famoust portrait, that is?Ironically, until only very recently, his owers weren´t American but British! By the 1790s, George Washington had become the symbol of America. He kept the new nation in control and helped realize its ideas. As a man, he was over six feet tall (about two meters) much taller than the norm for those days, so his greatness was measured not only by his accomplishments but also his height.
In the final year of Washington´s presidency, his portrain paintes, life-size, by the American artist Gilbert Stuart. Stuart also painted a head of Washington that later became the wwll-recognized picture on the American one-dollar bill.
A wealthy American cuple commissioned the now-famoust life-size portraint of Washongton as a gift to a British statesman. At the time Washington was 64 years old, just about three years before his death.However Stuart covered up many of the signs of age in Washington´s face to make him appear younger, stronger, and almost ommorial. In the portrain, Washington wears civilian clothers a black suit rather than the military uniform that he had wornin previous portraits.
Stuart´s finished portrait was sent to England, and much later in 1968, the painting was eventially lent by its British ower to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. for the opening of the National Portrain Gallrey. It has stayed there but only on loan ever since. Last year, the paiting´s British owner unexpectedly notified the Smithsonian that he intended to put for sale because of personal financial troubles;however, when the price became known-20 million dollars the Institution was unable to pay for it of their annual budget.
Luckily, a private foundation in Las Vegas Nevada, came up with not only the required money but also an additional 10 million dollars, which is begin used to send the picture on a national tour. So, in effect, this very generous organization made a gift of the famoust Washington portrait to America. After the Portrait Gallery, but as a permanent resident and not just a visitor.
As mentioned above, Stuart is also remenber for his painting of Washington´s head, which later appeared on our one-dollar BILL. Washinhton´s wife, Martha, requested that Stuart paint a pair of portraits of the couple, which, unfortunately, were never finished.
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George Washington biography
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