(1812 - 1888)

Jane Stuart was born sometime between 1808 and 1812, the youngest child of artist Gilbert Stuart and his wife, Charlotte Coates. Gilbert Stuart was the famed New England painter of European kings, American presidents, prominent citizens and a particularly well-known depiction of Sir William Grant known as The Skater. Stuart's George Washington portrait is still featured on the United States dollar bill; he made numerous copies of the original, aided by Jane, his favored assistant among his twelve children.

While Gilbert made use of Jane’s talents to help his own career, he apparently did little to encourage her own artistic possibilities. He never offered any formal guidance nor did Jane take lessons from other painters, and he called his daughter “Boy”—a confusing term that seemed to belittle her femininity and keep her in a subservient role.

Jane and The Gilbert Stuart Legacy

When Gilbert died in 1828, he was seventy-two, bankrupt, and had to be buried without a headstone. Any commissions earned from painting the major luminaries of the day were gone, and young Jane soon found herself taking on a new role—from being her father’s assistant and copyist to becoming family breadwinner and promoting the Gilbert Stuart painterly name. Her mother and other sisters now depended on her talent and ability to keep them financially afloat.

Contributed by Anonymous
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