Fielding, Mantle. Gilbert Stuart’s Portraits of George Washington. Philadelphia: Wickersham Printing Co. 1923, Limited edition, Signed. Quarto, quarter white calf leather and brown boards, with matching brown slipcase.
This rare, limited edition printing of Gilbert Stuart’s Portraits of George Washington is numbered 8 of only 100 copies printed. It is signed by the author, Mantle Fielding, on the edition page. The book was published in Pennsylvania in 1923 by the Wickersham Printing Company and features illustrations throughout.
Mantle Fielding was an architect and biographer who specialized in documenting the lives and works of American painters, sculptors, and engravers. Gilbert Stuart’s Portraits of George Washington focuses specifically on Gilbert Stuart and the extensive portraitures he completed of Washington. Fielding captured the essence of Stuart’s life work in this comprehensive and extensive biography.
Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) is best known for the hundreds of portraits he completed of American politicians and social figures during his lifetime. Stuart hoped to one day paint the first president of the United States, purportedly declaring to a friend: “I expect to make a fortune by Washington.” Stuart took on many governmental and private commissions during his life; his reputation and skill resulted in George Washington agreeing to sit for Stuart on three separate occasions.
Washington first sat for the artist in 1795 and the resulting oil portrait, nicknamed the Vaughan portrait, was widely successful. In the summer of 1796, after seeing Stuart’s first oil portrait of George, Martha Washington commissioned a pair of portraits of herself and the president from Stuart, which she planned to display at Mount Vernon. The resulting portrait was Stuart’s favorite image. Stuart liked this rendition so much he purposely left the original painting unfinished so that he could use it as a model for later paintings. The painting has since become one of the most celebrated paintings of Washington ever painted. The painting served as the basis for the engraving on the one-dollar bill. John Neal, an early nineteenth-century writer and art critic, wrote, “Though a better likeness of him were shown to us, we should reject it; for, the only idea that we now have of George Washington, is associated with Stuart’s Washington.” Stuart furthered his success with the Lansdowne Portrait; a full-length, life-size portrait of Washington in his formal presidential dress attire.
Stuart’s many portraits of Washington are chronicaled in this book. The richly written text is accompanied by black and white illustrations.
This limited edition copy is rebound in white quarter calfskin leather and brown cloth boards. The spine features gilt tooling and raised bands. The pages feature marbled endpapers, deckled edges, and a gilt top edge. The book is in very good condition with only very slight staining on a few of the interior pages. The author has signed the copy on the edition page. The signature is bold and legible. This large format copy is housed in a custom brown leather slipcase with a black and white portrait of George Washington on the side.