Look at Mrs. Otis’s complex expression and exquisite skin tones. Also note how her scarf drapes over her head and around her arm. No other artist in America at the time could match such skills. Unlike his contemporaries, Gilbert Stuart did not sketch a preliminary design onto the canvas but instead applied paint directly onto its surface. Beginning with the face, he built up layers of luscious colors and then spread outward to define forms. People clamored for this artist’s portraits and were willing to wait—sometimes years—for him to finish them.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: H: 28 x W: 22 in.
Place: Boston, Massachusetts
Collection: Julian Wood Glass Jr. Collection
Category: Paintings - Portraits
Purchased January 31, 1978 from Newhouse Galleries. From the collections of Mr. and Mrs. George Alexander Otis, the sitters, Boston, Massachusetts, 1865; Sarah Otis Ernst and Lucinda Otis Jameson, daughters of the sitters, Cincinnati, Ohio; Major General Oswald Herbert Ernst, grandson of the sitters, Washington, D. C.; Elizabeth Amory Ernst, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and; Roger Ernst, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Recorded in "Gilbert Stuart, An Illustrated Descriptive List of His Works" by Lawrence Park, 1926, Volume II, pages 561-563, Numbers 597 and 598; and Catalogue of the "Exhibition of Stuart Portraits", Boston, Massachusetts, Numbers 93 and 94. Reproduced in "Gilbert Stuart, An Illustrated Descriptive List of His Works" by Lawrence Park, Volume IV, pages 363 and 364, Numbers 597 and 598. Exhibited in "Exhibition of Stuart's Portraits," Boston, Massachusetts, 1828, Numbers 93 and 94; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., 1898-1899; 1901-1903; and the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1941. These Stuart portraits were illustrated in Time magazine, February 13, 1978, page 50.