Gilbert Stuart, American, 1755-1828
Title: Portrait of Bernard Shaw of Sandpitts, County Kilkenny (born c.1739)
Date: c.1790
Medium: Oil on canvas
76.3 x 63.2 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 1967
Object Number: NGI.1829
DescriptionBernard Shaw was a great-great-uncle of the writer George Bernard Shaw. His brother Robert Shaw became the Comptroller of the Post Office in Dublin and commissioned portraits of himself and his wife from Gilbert Stuart. This portrait must have been executed at the same time, remaining in the family collection at Bushy Park, Terenure, until the late nineteenth century. Although the sitter never achieved much in public life, the artist conveys a palpable sense of life through the working of the paint on the face and cravat.

Stuart enjoyed great success during his stay in Ireland from 1787 to 1793. Like his contemporary Francis Wheatley, his move to Ireland was occasioned by the need to escape debts in London, where he had worked independently for five years. Stuart returned to North America and is today known principally for his iconic images of George Washington. His pictures for that period show an increasingly sketchy finish, while the Irish pictures have a creamier texture and a more solid build-up of paint. He preferred to sketch in paint on the canvas and kept sitters at their ease with lively conversation and snuff-taking.
ProvenanceThe Shaw Family; by descent to Sir Frederick William Shaw, Bart. of Terenure, Dublin; L. M. Flesh, Ohio; Christie's, 17 November 1967, lot 95; purchased, Thos. Agnew & Sons, London, 1967
Exhibition HistoryRoyal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, 1902-1903

Aspects of Irish Art, a Loan Exhibition; Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Columbus, Ohio, 27 January - 3 March 1974; Toledo Museum of Arts, Toledo, Ohio, 17 March - 14 April 1974; St Louis Art Museum, St Louis, Missouri, 3 May - 9 June 1974

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