Martha Washington commissioned the original pair of portraits from Gilbert Stuart for Mount Vernon. He never completed the canvases, keeping them in his possession and making some 75 copies until his death in 1828. Subsequently they were acquired by the Boston Athenaeum. Since 1928 Stuart’s image of George Washington has appeared (reversed) on the one dollar bill.
Stuart’s youngest daughter, Jane (1812—88), was also an artist and she copied the Athenaeum portrait as well. There is a copy on display at Carpenters’ Hall, in Philadelphia.
Washington sat for Gilbert Stuart in Philadelphia between 1795 and 1796. These sittings resulted in three distinct images: the
Vaughan type (facing to his left), the
Athenaeum head (used on the dollar bill and facing to his right), and the
Lansdowne portrait (full-length).