Stuart was an American painter from Rhode Island Colony who is widely considered one of America’s foremost portraitists. His best-known work is an unfinished portrait of George Washington, begun in 1796, which is sometimes referred to as the Athenaeum Portrait. In Newport, he first began to show great promise as a painter and in 1770 made the acquaintance of Scottish artist Cosmo Alexander, a visitor to the colonies who made portraits of local patrons and who became his tutor. In 1771, Stuart moved to Scotland with Alexander to finish his studies; however, Alexander died in Edinburgh one year later he tried to maintain a living and pursue his painting career, but to no avail, so he returned to Newport in 1773. He again departed for England in 1773 and became a protégé of Benjamin West in 1777 and studied with him for the next six years. By 1782, Stuart had met with success, largely due to acclaim for The Skater, a portrait of William Grant.
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