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Provenance

(Henry Graves & Co., London); sold c. 1884 to (Samuel P. Avery, New York), as by Gilbert Stuart. Daniel F. Appleton, New York; by inheritance to his son, James W. Appleton, Ipswich, Massachusetts; from whom it was purchased 3 May 1921 by Thomas B. Clarke [d. 1931], New York;[1] sold by Clarke's executors 29 January 1936 through (M. Knoedler & Co., New York), as part of the Clarke collection, to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift to NGA, 1942.

Exhibition History
1921
Exhibition of Paintings by Early American Portrait Painters, The Union League Club, New York, November 1921, no. 2, as Robert Thew by Gilbert Stuart.
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, as Robert Thew by Gilbert Stuart.
1944
Gilbert Stuart: Portraits Lent by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 1944-1945, no. 2.
1947
American Paintings from the Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1947.
1948
American Paintings from the Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1948.
1949
American Paintings from the Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1949.
1950
The Face of American History, Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina, 1950, no. 11, as Robert Thew by Gilbert Stuart.
1951
American Paintings from the Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1951.
1951
American Portraits from the National Gallery of Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 1951, no. 10, repro. (organized by the Atlanta Art Association).
1952
[Opening exhibition], Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1952, no. cat.
1952
Opening Exhibition of The George Thomas Hunter Gallery of Art, Chattanooga Art Association, Tennessee, 1952, unnumbered.
1953
American Paintings from the Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1953.
1955
Famous Americans, Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, Maryland, 1955, no cat.
Bibliography
1926
Park, Lawrence. Gilbert Stuart. 4 vols. New York, 1926, 2:no. 833; repro.; 4:517.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 172, repro., as by European of Unknown Nationality.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 308.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 414, repro., as by Unknown Nationality 19th Century.
1992
Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 301-302, repro. 302.
Technical Summary

The medium-weight canvas is plain woven; it was lined between 1943 and 1944. Only the bottom tacking margin survives intact; this has been flattened and incorporated into the bottom of the picture plane. The proprietary white ground is of moderate thickness. X-radiographs show a white undermodeling in the flesh tones. The painting is fluidly executed with a restrained brushwork, texture being confined to the whites of the collar and cuff. Most of the portrait is constructed in a series of broad planes of color modified by linear areas of shading; the face and hair are handled more tightly. Overall the application is draftsmanlike rather than painterly. There is pronounced craquelure and traction crackle. The paint surface has been slightly abraded by solvent action, and the impasto slightly flattened during lining. Retouching is largely concentrated near the bottom edge; the red tablecloth is heavily overpainted and what was originally the sitter's left hand is crudely restored. The thick varnish layers, most recently a natural resin, have discolored yellow to a moderate degree.