Date of Award
Master of Science, Valuation Science
Susan B. Dunton
Harry B. Katz
The subject of this research project is a half length portrait of George Washington, oil on canvas, 30" in length and 25" in width . The painting is owned by Mr. Maurice Silverman of Silverman Galleries, Alexandria, Virginia.
When Mr. Silverman acquired the painting in 1962, the canvas was damaged so a restorer cleaned it, relined it, and inpainted the bare spots . After the restoration, Mr. Silverman researched the painting to discover who painted the portrait . Mr. Silverman felt strongly that it might be an original painting by Gilbert Stuart as there was a painting very similar to his portrait of Washington which was painted by Stuart in 1822 in Boston. This portrait was on loan to the Library Congress when the Library burned on December 14, 1851 . Mr. Silverman thought that perhaps the Washington painting was. rescued ( partially damaged) from the from the fire by someone who (unaware of the value of the painting) cut off the damaged portion of the canvas, overpainted the bare spots and kept it in their possession. Mr. Silverman's hypothesis in regard to the Washington portrait was an intriguing idea and it was the impetus for this in-depth research into the provenance of the painting, the history of the Stuart canvas which it resembled and the fire in which it was supposedly destroyed, a complete physical examination of Mr. Silverman's Washington portrait, and a careful analysis of the portrait in comparison to other's by Stuart.
Much of the research proved difficult and frustrating as records kept in the 19th Century are often incomplete. Also, portraits by Gilbert Stuart, though popular, were not valued as highly as they are today, and records of the paintings were not always kept making some of the necessary information impossible to find . The results of this project, though not totally conclusive, tend to disprove the hypothesis that the Silverman portrait of Washington is the original painted in Boston by Gilbert Stuart.
Erickson, Marbeth A., "Research and Analysis of a 19th Century Portrait of George Washington" (1993). Theses. 589.
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