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Unfinished Art Gilbert Stuart's Portrait of George Washington

About the unfinished work of art Gilbert Stuart's Portrait of George Washington, history and description of the piece.

RENOWNED UNFINISHED WORKS FROM THE ARTS TO ARCHITECTURE

4. GILBERT STUART: PORTRAIT OF GEORGE WASHINGTON (begun 1796)

America's leading portrait artist made three original portraits of Washington. The last, commissioned by Martha Washington, is undoubtedly the most famous painting by an American artist. It shows Washington uncomfortably clenching a new set of false teeth. To relax the sitter, Stuart chatted about local horse racing as he worked. Stuart deliberately did not finish the portrait so that he could keep it to make copies, which were in great demand in an age without photographs. He sold 70 copies at $100 apiece, calling them his "hundred-dollar bills." Appropriately, this portrait served as a model for the likeness on the dollar bill. Although Washington once went to Stuart's studio to demand his portrait, it remained there--still unfinished--until the artist's death in 1828. Now it is in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

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