News From Terre Haute, Indiana

History

February 17, 2013

HISTORICAL TREASURE: Dentures created stern Presidential expression

TERRE HAUTE — “He was indeed … a wise, a good, and a great man.”

— Thomas Jefferson speaking of George Washington

President’s Day is Feb. 18, so what better Historic Treasure to share with you than the most famous portrait of our first president, George Washington. This portrait, called the Athenaeum portrait, is one of three life portraits of the president painted by Gilbert Stuart. The other two are the Vaughan type (the original is missing), which shows the president facing right, and the full-length Lansdowne portrait. All of Stuart’s subsequent paintings of the president were taken from these three life portraits.

Stuart was one of America’s greatest portrait painters. Trained in Europe, he was known for his elegant and fashionable portrait style. His use of subtly varied skin tones in separate, unblended touches of the brush, and alternating darker and lighter flesh tones in shaded areas to indicate shadow and reflected light, gives a strikingly fresh aspect to his work.

The portrait itself, measuring 48-by-37 inches, was painted in 1796, when the president was 64 years old. There were some problems at first. For campaign reasons, starting in 1789, the president had been wearing dentures that were awkward to hold in his mouth and caused his face to become sunken. To provide a more natural look, Stuart ordered a larger pair of dentures to be made and used cotton to expand the mouth area. However, the dentures created a bulge and distorted the president’s jaw line, giving him a rather stern expression.

Stuart never finished the portrait and kept it until his death in 1828. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Smithsonian Institution now jointly own the portrait. It is on display in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. The print shown here hangs in the School Room of your Historical Society.

Would you like to know what George Washington really looked like? As the first elected president of a new country he became one of the most famous men in the world. Artists of all types and skill levels clamored for his attention. To save time from posing, Washington agreed to have a life mask made of his face. In 1785 French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon visited Mount Vernon and created the life mask of the then 53-year-old Washington. That life mask still survives and is on display at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. An Internet search of “George Washington life mask” will bring up many images of this treasure.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
History
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball Bodies of Malaysia Jet Victims Leave Ukraine Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead 98-Year-Old Woman Left in Parked Truck Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Fighting Rages Amid Mideast Truce Push Raw: Secretary of State Kerry in Israel Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law
NDN Video
LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB'
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity