Gibert Stuart's Painting on the US One-dollar Bill
Gilbert Stuart’s (1755–1828) unfinished portrait of President George Washington went on to surpass all others as the most iconic representation of the American founding father. He was a pivotal portraitist in the 18th and early 19th centuries, painting several leading political figures. The Athenaeum Portrait depicts a stoic 65-year-old Washington in the final year of his presidency and was commissioned alongside a pendant of Martha Washington. While he never completed the painting, he used it as a model to make finished copies after Washington’s death in 1799 – sixty of which survive today. At this time, many Americans’ regard for the leader soared and they desired a commemorative portrait for their homes. Stuart charged $100 per portrait and ironically referred to them as “hundred-dollar bills”. In 1869, the portrait would, in fact, be used to create an engraving for the portrait on the obverse of the one-dollar bill design. The image on the bill is reversed due to the engraving process.