Gilbert Stuart painted this portrait of Martha Washington at the same time he did that of the president. Both paintings were commissioned by the Washingtons. They were never completed, however, and the artist kept them in his possession until his death. Although Stuart made many copies of the president’s portrait, no other likeness of Martha Washington by Stuart is known to exist.
Sid Hart, senior historian at the National Portrait Gallery, recently discussed this 1796 portrait of Martha Washington at a Face-to-Face portrait talk. The work is displayed on the museum’s second floor, in the exhibition “America’s Presidents.”
Listen to Sid Hart's Face-to-Face talk on Martha Washington (28:07)
Face-to-Face occurs every Thursday evening at the National Portrait Gallery. The next Face-to-Face talk is this Thursday, March 26, when Lincoln’s Cottage curator Erin Carlson Mast speaks about Mary Todd Lincoln. The talk runs from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Visitors meet the presenter in the museum’s F Street lobby and then walk to the appropriate gallery.
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington / Gilbert Stuart, 1796 / Oil on canvas / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; owned jointly with Museum of Fine Arts, Boston