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At the time he painted this self-portrait, the American artist Gilbert Stuart was based in London and was a rising star in the art world.

This slickly executed image, with its crisp design and clear, subtle colours, advertises the painter’s technical sophistication. He took these skills back to America in 1793, where he established himself as a prolific and successful portrait painter. His most famous portrait is the one of Washington reproduced on the American dollar bill.

August 2004