Governor John Brooks, Gilbert Stuart

Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755–1828)

Governor John Brooks, 1820

Oil on wood panel

Gift of Mrs. Edward T. Harrison, in memory of her husband, Edward T. Harrison, 1965 (3370.1)

The preeminent portraitist in Federal America, Gilbert Stuart immortalized Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. This portrait of Massachusetts Governor John Brooks shows the Revolutionary War hero in military regalia, gazing out at the viewer with confidence and assurance. Brooks sits with the rigid formality befitting a man of stature, even as his likeness is animated by Stuart’s exuberant brushwork and vibrant colors. Indeed, Stuart has skillfully mastered the varying textures of Brooks’s gold uniform buttons, luxurious white necktie, and ruddy complexion. His fluid handling of pigments evolved from the European stylistic conventions that he learned as a student in England, as well from the example of British portrait painters such as Sir Joshua Reynolds.