Isaac Gouverneur, a British citizen living in New York, supported colonial independence by providing military supplies and even a cannon to the cause in 1775. He was arrested for treason for these actions and imprisoned in England. He returned to New York as a patriotic hero. Gilbert Stuart created two sketches of the sitter’s head from life for this portrait. He found the inclusion of the snuff box in the sitter’s hand a perfect gesture to illustrate Gouverneur’s relaxed demeanor.
Stuart is perhaps best known for his portraits of George Washington. In 1824 he competed with Rembrandt Peale before Congress over whose image of Washington was most believable. Stuart’s political maneuvering swayed Congress to accept his portrait of the first president as being the “most authentic. ”This debate highlighted the necessity of visual commemoration in the early development of the American nation.
Gift of Mrs. Henry G. Bartol, Jr.
Accession Number: 1976.8