National Museum of Women in the Arts
Jane Stuart
circa 1812 - April 27 1888
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Photograph of Jane Stuart in costume, ca. 1875, unknown photographer. Photographic reprint. Courtesy of the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Newport, RI, USA
Place of Birth:
Boston
Nationality:
American
Phonetic Spelling:
(jay-n) STOO-errt
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Painting
Artistic Role(s):
Painter, Portraitist, Self-taught Artist
Style:
Other
Artist's Biography:
Daughter of successful portraitist Gilbert Stuart, Jane Stuart spent her childhood assisting her father in his Boston workshop. Although Gilbert taught a number of students, he refused to formally teach his own children, believing that if they had real talent, they would be able to develop their skills without instruction. In his studio, Stuart was allowed to grind pigments and fill in backgrounds but was forbidden by her highly temperamental father to work alone. She listened to her father as he advised his students, and when she came across an abandoned canvas in the attic, began teaching herself to paint by carefully copying her father’s paintings. She continued producing copies of her father’s work under his supervision and soon began developing compositions of her own. In 1827 Stuart showed her first painting at the Boston Athenaeum, and from 1829 to 1845 exhibited at the National Academy of Design.

When her father died in 1828, Stuart became financially responsible for her family. She began accepting commissions for copies of her father’s paintings, particularly his portraits of George Washington which were in high demand.

In 1831, Stuart moved to Newport, Rhode Island with her mother and three sisters and set up a studio in their home where she painted and sold her work. In 1833, she attended the American Academy of Fine Art in New York but returned to Newport where she continued creating portraits, Biblical scenes, and literary-based genre paintings. Although her career is often obscured by her father’s, Stuart established her own artistic identity through her original works which were greatly admired for their individuality of style and theme. Although she was very prolific, a fire in her studio during the 1850s destroyed much of her work.

Stuart resigned to never marry, instead becoming a noted socialite and match-maker in her later years. As her artistic career slowed, her financial situation deteriorated, forcing her to accept financial support from wealthy friends until her death in 1888.

Other Occupation(s):
Socialite, Writer
Place(s) of Residence:
Boston
Newport
Where Trained/Schools:
none
Related Visual Artists:
daughter of Gilbert Stuart friend of Mary E. Powell
Fellowships, grants and awards:
unknown
Earliest exhibition:
Annual Exhibition, Boston Athenaeum, Boston, MA, USA (1827)
Artist retrospective(s):
none
Related places
Newport (died at)
Weeping Magdalene
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