Oil on canvas; H 24 in. x W 20 in. • H 61, W 50.8 cm. Independence National Historical Park, Portrait Collection (Second Bank of the United States), Philadelphia, PA.
Alexander Hamilton, 1790—95
Visitors to Monticello often wonder at its practical accessories. Jefferson labored a month to save a minute. His home was impractical from the start — by reason of its very site (on a mountain), by the height given the first version of the building (later disguised in a way that left useless spaces in and around its dome), by the perpetual
course of its dismantling and reassembly. To make the house more convenient, he made his daughter and her children live for years in a chaos of artistic second thoughts, sometimes sheltered only by canvas as the roof rose, fell, and assumed new shapes in his mind.