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This handsome portrait of Englishman Thomas Law was produced in the late 1790s by Gilbert Stuart, the preeminent artist of the period in America. It may have been painted in 1796, the year Thomas Law married Elizabeth (Eliza or Betsy) Parke Custis (1776-1831), the eldest granddaughter of Martha Washington. The Laws soon had a daughter, Eliza Parke Custis Law (1797-1822), but differences in temperament led to their separation. Law returned to England between 1802 and 1804, the couple legally separated in 1804, and divorced in 1811. In this painting, Law is shown in a prominently visible pink "underwaistcoat,’" a garment that had recently come into fashion. Though the circumstances of George Washington’s acquisition of the portrait are unknown, it apparently hung in the Front Parlor at Mount Vernon by 1799. More

Date

c. 1796


People


Geography


Material/Technique

Oil on twill weave linen


Dimensions

Other (Canvas HxW): 29 in. × 24 in. (73.66 cm × 60.96 cm)


Credit

Gift of Katherine Merle-Smith Thomas, 2010


Marks

On verso, on stretcher bar, two labels (identical, but torn in different areas). The labels are now removed and housed in the conservation binder for the work.
1.) HIRAM H. HOE- / BOX 333, G.P.O. NEW YORK/ RESTORER OF PAINTINGS / NO. 17831 / FRAME /
2.) – H. HOELZER / -P.O. NEW YORK 1, - / -R OF PAINTINGS /
3.) On verso, at upper left along the top stretcher bar, a label: “4841” (Not viewed due to relining and foamcore at the reverse.)


Object Number

W-2909


Colors


Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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