Gilbert Stuart, the American painter whose portrait of George Washington is immortalized on the $1 bill, now has a second painting in Reynolda House Museum of American Art.
Last week, Charlotte Metz Hanes, the widow of arts patron R. Philip Hanes, donated Stuart’s double portrait “Anna Dorothea Foster and Charlotte Anna Dick,” to Reynolda House.
The oil on canvas was completed in 1791, five or six years before the Washington portrait, and is considered an important work of Stuart’s because double portraits are rare in his body of work.
It is on view in the library of the historic house.
“I never imagined that Reynolda House would ever have the opportunity to acquire another painting by Gilbert Stuart, since paintings of this quality are so rarely available today,” Barbara Babcock Millhouse, the museum’s founding director, said. “We were honored to accept the gift, and I consider it a fitting way to honor Phil Hanes and his love of American art.”
The painting was done in Dublin, Ireland, where Stuart lived from 1787 until 1793. His time in Dublin was preceded by 12 years in London, where he studied the works of Reynolds, Romney and Gainsborough, and assisted Benjamin West with his artistic commissions.
The subjects of the double portrait are Anna Dorothea Foster, the daughter of John Foster, the last speaker of the Irish House of Commons on the right, and her cousin Charlotte Anna Dick on the left. It is known from a receipt that Foster commissioned portraits of himself and his family members.
The portrait shows the girls dressed in similar ivory dresses with pink sashes. They bear a strong resemblance to each other, with long golden brown hair arranged in ringlets, blue eyes, and pink cheeks.
“It’s a museum-quality piece, and with the stories behind it, it needed to stay in Winston-Salem,” Charlotte Hanes said. “I’m real happy with where it is.”
One of those stories involves the painting’s acquisition. It was the first painting that the then-young Phil Hanes and his first wife, Joan, bought when he graduated from Yale University, Charlotte Hanes said.
“Phil’s Uncle John Hanes had seen the painting at a shop in New Haven (Connecticut) and said, ‘Y’all ought to go see it.’ They saw it three times,” Charlotte Hanes said. “The guy said, ‘You keep coming to see this painting. Why don’t you make me an offer?’
“I think they said $500, and the guy let them have it. I never knew if John made up the difference.”
The Reynolda museum does not share information about values of works, even approximate values, spokeswoman Kaci Baez said. Similar paintings have recently sold at auction for between $50,000 and $500,000, according to Liveauctioneers.com, a New York company that conducts online auctions of art, antiques, jewelry and collectibles.
“I’m back and forth between here and the farm up on the New River, and the painting is not being enjoyed,” Charlotte Hanes said. “So I thought I would give it to Reynolda House and the people of Winston-Salem.
“Other museums were interested in the painting, and it was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery. But I thought it should remain in Phil’s beloved ‘city of the arts.’”
The first Stuart painting that Reynolda acquired is of Sally Foster Otis and was painted in 1809. Otis was a Boston socialite knowon for her beauty, according to Wikipedia, and wife of lawyer, congressman and businessman Harrison Gray Otis.
Oddly, it was intended to be a double portrait, as Stuart originally included Sally’s son Alleyne who was, ultimately, painted out. Over the years, Alleyne’s face has emerged through the paint in a ghostly aspect.