National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Abigail Smith Adams (Mrs. John Adams) Gilbert Stuart (painter)
American, 1755 - 1828
Abigail Smith Adams (Mrs. John Adams), 1800/1815
oil on canvas
overall: 73.4 x 59.7 cm (28 7/8 x 23 1/2 in.) framed: 97.5 x 84.8 x 10.8 cm (38 3/8 x 33 3/8 x 4 1/4 in.)
Gift of Mrs. Robert Homans
On View
From the Tour: Gilbert Stuart
Object 4 of 5

Mrs. John Adams felt that "if we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women." Stuart's portrait, begun when the first lady was fifty-six, captures the patrician beauty of her straight nose and arched brows. The forthright painting also leaves little doubt about the force of character, intellect, and principles of this daughter of a Massachusetts minister.

This likeness was Stuart's only completed picture of Abigail Smith Adams. It and its companion piece of her husband, John Adams, were started in 1800 but not delivered until 1815. The Adams' eldest son and the future sixth president, John Quincy Adams, politely stated his family's attitude toward the artist's procrastination: "Mr. Stuart thinks it the prerogative of genius to disdain the performance of his engagements."

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