Only one portrait artist in history is credited with having painted all 5 of the first Presidents of the United States in person: Gilbert Stuart!
To help you learn more about Gilbert Stuart, we’ve developed a week of free lesson plans as well as some activities for your use. It’s all included in our free downloads here!
If you’d like a fun introduction to Stuart’s life that will be engaging and authentic, you can grab our Gilbert Stuart Letter by subscribing to the Heritage Letter anytime between now and September 14th, 2021 and after that it will be available in our Retired Letters!. It’s full of direct quotes, facts about his life, and gives insights into one of his most famous paintings, the Lansdowne Portrait of George Washington. You can get snail mail letter here or the instant digital download version here.
See Gilbert Stuart’s Lansdowne Portrait of George Washington in the South Gallery of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D. C.
Replicas of this painting also hang in many state capitols if you’d like to see a copy close to home it’s worth calling your state capitol to see if they have it on display.
Unfortunately, few books exist about Gilbert Stuart, none that we could find for children.
One book that may be worth adding to your library is Gilbert Stuart: Colour Plates by Maria Peitcheva
For older students, the following is an excellent explanation regarding various elements included in the Lansdowne Portrait from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery: George Washington Lansdowne Portrait
One Week with Gilbert Stuart
Day 1: Greetings Mr. Stuart!
- Read the Heritage Letter from Gilbert Stuart
- Watch: Gilbert Stuart—American Artifacts Preview from C-SPAN
Day 2: The First Five Presidents
- Compare Stuart’s Paintings of the First Five Presidents (you’ll find a copy of each portrait in our free downloads to accompany the letter)
- If you’d like to view portraits of other American Presidents, visit the National Portrait Gallery Website
- Did you know you probably already have multiple copies of a Gilbert Stuart portrait in your own home? Find Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington on the $1 bill!
Day 3: Stuart’s Lansdowne Portrait of George Washington
Learn more about the portrait included with your Gilbert Stuart Letter:
Day 4: Mysteries of the Lansdowne Portrait & Restoration
- Learn about Hidden Clues in the Lansdowne Portrait
- Learn about the restoration of the Lansdowne Portrait
Day 5: Saving the Lansdowne Portrait
Learn how First Lady Dolley Madison saved Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington during the British Burning of Washington, D. C. in 1814
- Dolley Madison Comes to the Rescue Article
- Watch When the British Burned the White House:
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