National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

Tour: Gilbert Stuart Paints the First Five Presidents

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The Gibbs-Coolidge Set of the First Five Presidents

The Gibbs-Coolidge paintings are the only surviving complete set of portraits depicting the first five presidents of the United States. Commissioned by Colonel George Gibbs of Rhode Island, the group was painted in Boston during the last phase of Stuart's career. In 1872, Colonel Gibbs’ heirs sold the paintings to Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, and the set descended through subsequent generations of the Coolidge family. The suite retains its original Federal frames.

Stuart did paint another set of the first five presidents. However, while that group was on loan to the Capitol in 1851, three of the portraits burned during a fire in the congressional library. Engraved prints of that set were enormously popular during the Federal period, earning the nickname "The American Kings." « back to gallery