When he left Dublin in 1793, Gilbert Stuart’s ambition was to paint the first president of the United States. By 1821, he had painted the first five presidents of the United States. The Gibbs-Coolidge paintings are the only surviving complete set of portraits depicting the first five presidents. Commissioned by Colonel George Gibbs of Rhode Island, this group was painted in Boston during the last phase of Gilbert Stuart’s career. In 1872, Colonel Gibbs’ heirs sold the paintings to Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, and the set descended through subsequent generations of his family.
These works of art demonstrate Stuart’s extraordinary ability to capture an individual’s likeness, which he accomplished through close observation and conversation with his sitters. The Gibbs-Coolidge suite retains its original Federal frames. Below, see three of the Gibbs-Coolidge set: “George Washington,” “John Adams,” and “James Monroe.” Learn more about the whole suite here: http://go.usa.gov/x9ykW.
“George Washington,” c. 1821, oil on wood, Gift of Thomas Jefferson Coolidge IV in memory of his great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, his grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge II, and his father, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge III
“John Adams,” c. 1821, oil on wood, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund
“James Monroe,” c. 1817, oil on wood, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund