Overview

Gilbert Stuart achieved fame as a portrait painter in both England and America. When he returned to America from England in 1793, he found himself in a homeland that was foreign to him. Politically, there was now a United States instead of thirteen separate colonies. Artistically, the fashionable style he had adopted for British and Irish sitters was highly inappropriate for Yankee merchants' forthright tastes.

Complaining about the literalness required of him in America, Stuart quipped, "In England my efforts were compared with those of Van Dyck, Titian, and other great painters—here they are compared with the works of the Almighty!" The Almighty had given Catherine Yates a bony face and an appraising character, and that is exactly what Stuart had to portray. Not wishing to waste time posing for an artist, this wife of a New York importer industriously attends to her sewing.

Yet Stuart's brilliant paint manipulation generates a verve few other artists on either side of the Atlantic could have matched. Every passage contains some technical tour de force, employing a variety of thick or thin, opaque or translucent oil paints for the fabrics, needle, thimble, wedding band, flesh, and fingernails. It is little wonder that Mrs. Richard Yates has become one of America's most famous paintings, both as an artistic masterpiece and as a visual symbol of the early republic's rectitude.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

The sitter's daughter, Catherine Yates Pollock [c. 1760-1805] and her husband, George Pollock [1762-1820], New York and New Orleans; their son, Carlile Pollock [1791-1845], New Orleans; his daughter, Marie Louise Pollock Chiapella [1828-1902]; possibly to her son, Henry Chiapella [1849-c. 1908]; his niece, Louise Chiapella Formento, New Orleans; sold 1911 to Isaac Monroe Cline [1861-1955] New Orleans;[1] purchased 16 January 1918 by Thomas B. Clarke [1848-1931], New York;[2] his estate; sold as part of the Clarke collection on 29 January 1936, through (M. Knoedler & Co., New York), to The A.W. Mellon Education and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1940 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1922
Portraits Painted in the United States by Early American Artists, The Union League Club, New York, February 1922, no. 2.
1928
Portraits by Early American Artists of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Collected by Thomas B. Clarke, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1928-1931, unnumbered and unpaginated catalogue.
1938
Trois Siècles d'Art aux Etats-Unis, Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris, 1938, no. 165, pl. 4.
1939
Life in America [A Special Loan Exhibition of Paintings Held During the Period of the New York World's Fair], The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1939, no. 53, repro.
1944
Art of the United Nations, Art Institute of Chicago, 1944-1945, p. 46
1945
Old and New England, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 1945, no. 60
1946
American Painting from the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day, Tate Gallery, London, 1946, no. 207
1947
40 Masterpieces: A Loan Exhibition of Paintings from American Museums, City Art Museum of St. Louis, 1947, no. 36
1950
Diamond Jubilee Exhibition: Masterpieces of Painting, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1950-1951, no. 59
1950
Fifty Paintings by Old Masters, Art Gallery of Toronto, 1950, no. 44
1953
Landmarks in American Art: 1670-1950, Wildenstein and Co., Inc., New York, 1953, no. 7
1954
Painters' Painters, Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, 1954, no. 19
1957
Face of America, The History of Portraiture in the United States, Brooklyn Museum, 1957-1958, no. 25
1961
Treasures in America, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 1961, p. 94
1963
Carolina Charter Tercentenary Exhibition, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, 1963, no. 32
1964
200 Years of American Painting, City Art Museum of St. Louis, 1964, p. 6
1967
Gilbert Stuart, Portraitist of the Young Republic 1755-1828, National Gallery of Art; Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 1967, no. 19
1976
American Art: 1750-1800 Towards Independence, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1976, no. 46
1980
La Pintura de Los Estados Unidos de Museos de la Ciudad de Washington, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 1980-1981, no. 5, color repro.
2004
Gilbert Stuart, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Art (for the National Portrait Gallery), Washington, D.C., 2004-2005, no. 28, repro.

Bibliography

1834
Dunlap 1834, 1:196.
1867
Tuckerman 1867, 109.
1922
Sherman, Frederic Fairchild. "Current Comment: Exhibitions." Art in America 10, no. 3 (April 1922): repro. 141, 144.
1924
Cortissoz, Royal. "The Field of Art." Scribner's Magazine 76 (July 1924): 110-11, repro.
1926
Park 1926, 78, 80, 837, no. 943, repro.
1928
Barker, Virgil. "Portraiture in America Before 1876." The Arts 13, no. 5 (May 1928): 284, repro. 272.
1928
Portraits by Early American Artists of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Collected by Thomas B. Clarke. Exh. cat. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1928, unnumbered.
1932
Sherman, Frederic Fairchild. Early American Painting. New York and London, 1932: 28, 49, 82, pl. 31.
1941
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 188, no. 490, as Mrs. Richard Yates.
1942
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 249, repro. 10, as Mrs. Richard Yates.
1944
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1944: 144, color repro., as Mrs. Richard Yates.
1949
Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 137, repro., as Mrs. Richard Yates.
1950
Barker, Virgil. American Painting, History and Interpretation. New York, 1950: 246, pl. 32.
1953
Goodrich, Lloyd. "Landmarks in American Art." Magazine of Art 46, no. 3 (March 1953): l09, cover repro.
1956
Richardson, Edgar P. Painting in America. New York, 1956: 98.
1959
Bouton, Margaret. American Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1959 (Booklet Number One in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.): 20, color repro., as Mrs. Richard Yates.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 228, repro., as Mrs. Richard Yates.
1964
Mount 1964, 169-170, 177, 184-185, 377.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:382, color repro., as Mrs. Richard Yates.
1969
Novak, Barbara. American Painting of the Nineteenth Century: Realism, Idealism, and the American Experience. New York, 1969: 35, 36, repro. 34.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 108, repro.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 384-385, color repro.
1979
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 96, pl. 84.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 238, repro., as Mrs. Richard Yates.
1980
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 9, 13, no. 7, color repro.
1981
Dinnerstein, Lois. "The Industrious Housewife: Some Images of Labor in American Art." Arts 55, no. 8 (April 1981): 113, 115, fig. 3.
1981
Williams 1981, color repro. 51, detail 65, 66.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 380, no. 538, color repro.
1986
McLanathan 1986, 79, color repro. 80.
1988
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Rev. ed. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988: 60-61, no. 7, color repro., as Mrs. Richard Yates.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 348, repro., as Mrs. Richard Yates.
1992
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 219, repro.
1994
Craven, Wayne. American Art: History and Culture. New York, 1994: 142, color fig. 10.7.
1995
Miles, Ellen G. American Paintings of the Eighteenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1995: 193-196, repro. 195, color frontispiece.
2001
Southgate, M. Therese. The Art of JAMA II: Covers and Essays from The Journal of the American Medical Association. Chicago, 2001: 78-79, 210, color repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 292-293, no. 238, color repro.

Technical Summary

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