Gilbert Stuart, George Washington [The Constable-Hamilton Portrait], 1797, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 in. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2005.27. Photography by Edward C. Robison III.
Gilbert Stuart George Washington [The Constable-Hamilton Portrait]
How do portraits tell a story?
What is the artist communicating about American leaders? How is this portrait a representation of the American presidency?
Why is the setting important in this portrait? What does the setting and background objects represent in the story of America?
Does this image of George Washington look familiar? The face of Washington on the one-dollar bill was based on another, similar painting by Gilbert Stuart. This painting helped establish an image of the first president as a powerful leader.
The painting also reflects friendship among the nation’s leading citizens. The merchant William Kerin Constable asked Stuart to paint this portrait as a gift for his friend Alexander Hamilton, who served as Secretary of the Treasury under Washington.
What qualities make a good president? How much power should the president have?
Who are some of the “heroes” of American history? What do we think about their legacy? How does time change our understanding of someone’s legacy? What does George Washington symbolize today?
Is portraiture still relevant? How are social and political leaders represented today?
Exhibition sponsored by Kenneth C. Griffin
Learning and engagement programming for We the People: The Radical Notion of Democracy is sponsored by:
Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr. Foundation | Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates, & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. | Johnny and Jeanie Morris, Bass Pro Shops | Alturas Foundation | Harriet and Warren Stephens, Stephens Inc. | Sotheby’s | Bob and Becky Alexander | Marybeth and Micky Mayfield | Lamar and Shari Steiger | Jeff and Sarah Teague / Citizens Bank | Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities | Avis and Bill Bailey | Scarlett and Neff Basore | June Carter Family | Terri and Chuck Erwin | Jackye and Curtis Finch | The Harrison and Rhonda French Family | Jim and Susan von Gremp | Laurice Hachem | Shannon and Charles Holley | Valorie and Randy Lawson / Lawco Energy Group | Donna and Mack McLarty | Steve and Susan Nelson | Neal and Gina Pendergraft | Helen Porter | JT and Imelda Rose | Lee and Linda Scott | Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Catherine and Michael Mayton, Trustees | William Reese Company