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GILBERT STUART (1755-x828)

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 1047 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GILBERT STUART (1755-x828), American artist, was born at North Kingstown, Rhode Island, on the 3rd of December 1755. He studied at Newport,. Rhode Island, with Cosmo Alexander, and went with him to Scotland, but returned to America after Alexander's death and obtained many portrait 1 Cat. of State Papers, Venetian, ix. 541, x. 42, 514. 2 Lotti, Venetian secretary, writing on the 23rd of junto Athenaeum, vol. 97, ii: 353. it is true, he had the good fortune, in his raid against General Pope's communications, not only to burn a great quantity of stores, but also, what was far more important, to bring off - the headquarters' staff document of the enemy, from which Lee was able to discover the strength and positions of his opponents in detail. Stuart, now a major-general and commander of the cavalry corps, was present at the second battle of Bull Run, and during the Maryland campaign he brilliantly defended one of the passes of South Mountain (Crampton's Gap), thus enabling Lee to concentrate his disseminated army in time to meet McClellan's attack. After this battle the indefatigable troopers embarked upon a fresh raid, which, though without any definite object, had its value as an assertion of unbroken courage after the quasi-defeat of Antietam, and in addition wore out the Federal cavalry in vain efforts to pursue them. On this occasion the swift Virginians covered 8o miles in 27 hours and escaped with the loss of but three men. At Fredericksburg Stuart's cavalry were as usual in the flank of the army, and his horse artillery under Major Pelham rendered valuable service in checking Franklin's attack on " Stonewall " Jackson's corps by diverting a whole infantry division that formed part of Franklin's command. At Chancellorsville Stuart was specially appointed by Lee to take over command of the II. army corps after Jackson had been wounded, and though unused to commanding so large a force of all arms he acquitted himself so well in the second day's fighting that many considered that a grave injustice was done to him by the promotion of Major-General Ewell, Jackson's principal lieutenant, to fill the position left vacant by Jackson's death. The next campaign, Gettysburg, was preluded by the cavalry battle of Brandy Station, in which for the first time the Federal cavalry showed themselves worthy opponents for Stuart and his men. The march to the Potomac was screened by the cavalry corps, which held the various approaches on the right flank of the army, but at the crisis of the campaign Stuart was absent on a raid, and although he attempted to rejoin Lee during the battle, he was met and checked some miles from the field by General Gregg, so that the skill and courage which might have turned the scale in favour of Lee on the first and second days of the great battle were employed only in covering his retreat. The cavalry took part in the war of manceuvre between Meade and Lee in the autumn of 1863, and then went into winter quarters. Very shortly after the opening of the campaign of 1864 Stuart's corps was drawn away from Lee's army by the Union cavalry under Sheridan, and part of it, with which was Stuart himself, was defeated at Yellow Tavern on the loth of May. Stuart himself was killed. Stuart possessed the ardent and resolute character of the true cavalry leader, and although he was fortunate enough to command brigades and regiments exclusively composed of men who were both born horsemen and natives of Virginia, and to be opposed, for the first two years, by docile but unenterprising squadrons which were recruited in a more ordinary way, yet it was undeniable that he possessed the gift, indeed the genius, of a great leader. That his energy was sometimes squandered on useless raids was but natural, considering the character of his forces,. but in regard to his performances in the more exhausting and far more vital service of security and reconnaissance, General Johnston could ask " How can I sleep unless he is on the outpost? " and General Lee could say " He never brought me a false report." Stuart preserved under all circumstances the, gaiety of a cavalry subaltern and the personal character of an earnest Christian, and the army regarded his loss as almost as heavy a blow to the Confederate cause as that of Jackson. See Life by H. B. McClellan (1885). commissions. In 1775 he went to England, and became a pupil of Benjamin West in 1778. His work, however, shows none of the influence of West, and after four years Stuart set up a studio for himself in London, meeting with much success. Living beyond his means, he got into financial difficulties, and in 1788 escaped to Dublin. In London he had painted George III. and the future George IV., and in Paris had painted Louis XVI., and his success was no less great in Ireland. After five years he left Ireland for his native land in order to paint General Washington, who was said to be the only person in whose presence Stuart found himself embarrassed, and his first por-' trait Stuart felt was a failure; but Washington sat to him again, the result being the " Athenaeum " head on an unfinished canvas, showing the left side of the face. This remains the accepted likeness of Washington, of whom he also painted a full-length for Lord Lansdowne; of each of these portraits he executed many replicas. Among his portraits are those of Presidents Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams, and John Jay, Governor Winthrop, Generals Gates and Knox, Bishop White, Chief Justice Shippen, John Singleton Copley,, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Benjamin West, Lords Clinton, Lyndhurst, and Inchiquin, Sir Edward Thornton, Mme Patterson-Bonaparte and Horace Binney. Stuart's original colouring and technique, and his insight into character, make him not only one of the few great American artists, but one of the greatest portrait painters of his time. He settled at Boston in 1805, and died there on the 27th of July 1828. See George C. Mason, Life and Works of Gilbert Stuart (New York, 1879)•
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