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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  February 14, 2016 9:30pm-10:01pm EST

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night.y located on the national mall in washington, d.c., the national gallery of art was a gift to the american whole from andrew mellon served as treasury secretary from 1921 to 1932 hearing up next come in the second of a two-part program, we visit the museum to learn about early american portrait tainting. in this program, we feature the work of gilbert stuart, whose unfinished work of george washington is the image on the $100 bill.
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dianne: hello, i am dianne stephens from the national gallery of art. john is an artist who is well known for his history paintings in america, not as much portraiture. he aspired to be a history painter, then he eventually went to england and spent a couple of years with benjamin west. west was an amazing figure who welcomed almost every painter that we are going to talk about today. they learned the art of history painting, came back to the colonies -- this is his portrait of alexander hamilton who was washington's -- it is interesting that here alexander hamilton is hanging next to gilbert stuart's portrait of john jay. madison, john jay, and alexander hamilton wrote the federalist papers. also, in 1794, john jay invited alexander hamilton to be a part of the treaty commission in london. so there is quite a connection between these two men. who knew they would hang next to each other in the national gallery? looking at john jay, we does to gilbert stuart, who is the preeminent american painter of the federalist period.
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he went to study with benjamin west early in his career and became -- he worked in london for over 10 years and was a very well established painter in london. very proficient. he could have stayed in england painting and could have sold his paintings there, but he accumulated debt. he made a good living, but he could not keep up with it, so he left london and went to dublin. he spent a couple of years there trying to get rid of his creditors. the same thing happened to him in dublin, he accumulated all sorts of debt, and he decided he would come to america and he would paint washington and make his fortune by painting washington. in 1793, he came to america. he did not go to paint washington immediately though, he stopped in new york city and he painted there for about 1.5 years. he painted 36 paintings in that time. he was doing quite well.
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he knew john jay, met john jay when he was in england, so john jay introduced him into his circle of friends. he also knew a family in ireland and introduced him to a circle of friends there. he was very busy doing portraits and his technical skills were so amazing, he was so proficient, that no one could top the stuart. this is his portrait of john jay, done in new york in 1794. he is shown in his amazing robes. these were given to him by harvard when they bestowed an honorary doctorate of law on him. that is why he is shown in this beautiful red and black costume, rather than a more conservative suit. he has his hand resting on a book, and the other on his lap, just the picture of judicial proficiency. it was john jay,--gilbert stuart's reason for coming to washington was to paint washington. it was john jay who made that
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possible for him. it was john stewart's purpose to come to america to paint george washington. before going to washington, let's go into the next gallery. before painting washington, stuart spent 1.5 years in new york and painted many portraits while he was there and we are lucky enough to have probably eight of them. he painted a whole series of portraits for a family. two of them are hanging right here, this is one. and this is richard. stuart at his most amazing. catherine was married to richard who hangs on the other side of the doorway over there. he was a boston -- he had an importing company, so they were import/exporters.
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they took to the west indies. flour, things like that. they transported to the west indies and brought back molasses and rum and sugar and all kinds of things from the west indies. he had a very flourishing import-export business which i'm not quite sure what happened with the war, and he eventually, her husband, did end up fighting with the british and they left new york for a little while and came back once there was an occupation of new york in 1776. they did not leave the country. they were here during the war. catherine is shown -- she is a 57 or 58-year-old woman when she was painted. she is not very beautiful. but he has done an amazing thing, he has shown her in her long face and pointed nose. he has shown her turned sideways to us in the midst -- as if she had so much to do, such an industrious person, that she cannot stop working even while
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he was painting her. so here she is sewing. she has her glitter and her thimble. and then the needle in her hands. the shine on the thread. her beautiful monochrome gray sun-dress that she is wearing, very simple, but it is beautifully painted. other places as well. little brass tacks on her chair. the glint of her wedding ring. most of all, the grays and browns, her brown eyes looking out at us. very appraisingly. and a beautiful cap that she is
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wearing. you might have noticed that martha washington was wearing a similar cap, called that because it was worn during the french revolution. was, in some ways, a symbol of support for the democracy and for the revolution. in her case, it may have just been fashion. but it is beautifully painted. i love this little swipe of white here. in the bow at the top. his brushstroke is so sure and so -- just painted so beautiful. stuart said that it was a waste of time to use chalk or pencil and doing under-drawing and all that, he said it should all be done with the paintbrush. not many people can do that. stuart could. we will take a look at the husband over here. attention to detail, you may
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have noticed that there was some powder on the collar. it is wig powder on his shoulder. it must not have been a faux pas to have that showing, because both of these painters painted it. brass buttons glistening against the fabric of his beautiful dark blue coat. he is sitting in a chair. i love the way his accoutrements on his desk are painted. just the beauty of the way that it is painted. that little touch of red. and his papers -- he was a merchant. i'm sure he had papers to deal with and that is how he is shown. his wife's painting is a classic.
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it is gilbert stuart at his very best, i think. let's walk along this wall over here. this is another stuart portrait painting while he was in new york before he ever went to philadelphia to paint washington. this is a woman. we also have the portrait of her husband, but it is not on view. these were done as a pair. her husband was a newly appointed ambassador to the united states, so they were newlyweds, so this is painted right before they returned to england. an interesting thing about stuart as a painter, is that he could be very revelatory. he took commissions that took 15 years to finish. it did not take as long for this one, that's what henrietta wrote in her diary about stuart was that he was extremely -- she said the thing about him is that he is remarkable for being dilatory. it is amazing that paint dries so slowly in the country, because he kept telling her that the paint is not dry and she cannot take it back to england with her yet. as many people noted, stuart sometimes came through very
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quickly, and other times he did not even finish his work. he was very mercurial. this is such a beautifully done portrait with her color harmonies that stuart used for her. the beautiful linings of the blues and the peach. the way her bonnet is lined and the ruffling and the bow and the bow under her chin. in the blue of the sky. it is unusual for him to show somebody doing something, but here she is sewing. then someone is pulling on her glove, which is a nice touch. beautiful skin. you can see the variety of stuart's brush is so amazing. in some areas it is very thin, and in other areas he built it up and you can see quite a bit of paint on the canvas.
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you can see the texture of the canvas coming through on this one. this is a rembrandt painting. charles willson peale had a huge number of children, i cannot member how many, but he named some of his sons rembrandt, rafael, etc. he is painting his brother with geraniums. it is a portrait of rembrandt and of geraniums which were a very rare breed in the colonies at the time. we will see more work by him later. here we come to another one. you remember that we saw her in the washington family portrait as a young girl. here she is as a young woman. this is by stuart. it was done in 1804. it is after he had left new york. she is wearing a very comfortable, fitting dress.
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she has a beautiful sash tied around her waist, and reclining over her arm. at this time, she had had a hard life. her father had died when she was young, and she had a very, very -- she was very close to martha washington, who died in 1802. it was very devastating for her to lose martha washington. she had also had a child that had died after contracting the measles. she, herself, got measles and she had been sick for a while. she was at a time in her life where there was a lot of sadness and melancholy and stuart captures that very well, with her looking off into the distance. so now we come to george washington. stuart, as i said earlier, his whole point of coming to america was to make his painting of washington. the history of the paintings of washington are complicated. he came to philadelphia and had the letter of introduction from
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john jay. surprisingly enough, washington was willing -- i think he invited him that very evening and he was going to sit the next morning. so the first portrait that stuart did of washington is called the lansdowne portrait. it was commissioned by someone named vaugn. stuart did the portrait and immediately had 33 patrons who wanted copies of that portrait. so he made maybe 12 or 13 copies and then he got tired of doing that. by that time, and we have a vaugn portrait downstairs, but not on view. for a while it was thought that ours might be the original, but it is probably a very early copy, because stuart, late in his writings, wrote that he had rubbed that one out, because in the midst of making replicas of the portrait he got another
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commission from martha washington for a portrait which he began and which became an unfinished portrait. it is the one that became the athenaeum -- that he preferred, that is on the dollar bill. it is the one that this is modeled after. this one was a replica. it was commissioned by a man named gibbs. he commissioned a set of five portraits of the first five presidents. this is the portrait of washington. it is by stuart for the gibbs commission. all of the replicas -- it is an athenaeum replica. he said that washington was difficult to paint because he was taciturn and stuart was known to chat people up.
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that way they had a lively expression and it was better. washington was not one to really suffer that glib kind of conversation that stuart liked to partake in. it was difficult to get washington to -- it is said that washington, when he was not engaged in an idea or talking about something. when he was doing that, his features were very --, but when he was not, his features went blank. he had no expression. which was maybe some of the trouble that stuart had with him, but this is a very elegant portrait. john adams. this is a copy of a portrait that stuart already had, and this is a replica of the portrait that we will see downstairs that stuart did of john adams. he changed the color of the clothing and gave him this really rich reddish-brown jacket. the technique he used with a little lines around the eyes and little bits of blue that kind of reflect and enliven the face --
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stuart would lock in the face in a very fluid way. a very light way and then he would go back and do the highlights. you could see his bald dome. on the nose. there are places where the light catches. this is jefferson. it is a little less focused looking to me than the others. similar background. this, he took a replica of a portrait he had done -- an earlier portrait he had done of jefferson and had not delivered to him yet, so he had it in his studio. and then madison. and then we come to james monroe. you notice that the background of the monroe painting is
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different and it may be because this one was started a little earlier. this one was started in 1817, when he was president. he did not like the painting very much. was not very happy with it. but maybe it was the background that stuart was using at the time because we see that in one of his portraits downstairs, too. but these are the gibbs -- this is the only set that exists now of the five presidents. there were two, he did one for a man named doggett, as well. only two remain because only madison and monroe -- the other three burned in a fire at the library of congress. the frames are original and thought to be by doggett who was a frame maker in boston. we are now in the gallery's
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installation of the kaufman collection of american furniture. and, hanging on the wall, is george washington. i guess by now you are beginning to get the sense, i think, that the 18th century in america was a kind of a revolution and after the revolution was a very small place. many of the same people come up again and again, and many of those people are interconnected and we have seen a few of those relationships there. there is alexander hamilton and george washington. the most important thing, i think, of this small place with all of these people who all are interconnected, george washington is the center. everybody knows and admires him. everybody wants a portrait. everybody wants to paint him. if you are a painter. and everybody else wants a picture or image of george washington. it can be an engraving from the painting or maybe it is a vase that you bought from france, with george washington's image
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on it. considering george washington to be the modern day -- also one with john adams on it. or maybe it is a clock with george washington on it. imported from france. everyone wants something with george washington on it. this portrait that we are looking at, right here, is an image of george washington which was recently cleaned by a grant that the gallery has from the bank of america. it is to conserve paintings by gilbert stuart. i think we are working our way through them, but this is one of the first ones that was done. it is a replica of the vaugn image. this one was requested by a man named vaugn and owned by someone named sinclair. and this is the first image, --
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a replica of the first image that stuart did. you can see the red drapery in the background and capturing the presidential image there. beside it, is an image of washington by rembrandt peale. it is done in 1859, after washington had died. also, in the gallery, we have another image, now, by rembrandt peale of george washington, before yorktown, that hangs in the stairwell. it is a new painting that came from somewhere else. it is magnificent and we may see it later. let's walk across the room and see these portraits of john and abigail adams. we saw john adams upstairs, and actually that portrait that we saw upstairs of him in the brownish-read coat is a replica from this painting. this painting was commissioned in 1800.
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it was when adams was about 65. stuart never finished it. abigail adams wrote that she just did not know what to think about that man stuart, that the likeness was good, but perhaps, her children would never see it because stuart just did not finish it. it was only in 1815, that stuart came back to this portrait and finally finished it. adams had to come and sit again for it, because of course, he had changed in 15 years, and stuart repainted it and updated it, with the wrinkles and all that adams had acquired. abigail adams, her portrait was also commissioned in 1800. and never finished. and stuart came back to do it again in 1815. abigail did not re-pose or read-sit for it. her face stayed the same, very smart woman. the dress is the old style.
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stuart added an up-to-date scarf and the bonnet. those are new and in fashion in 1815. he updated her portrait, but her face remains the same. stuart apparently said to her nephew when he was painting her the first time in 1800, i wish i could've painted her when she was younger, it would have been perfect. maybe he said that to all of the women he painted. but these are classics of american portraiture. these two portraits are wonderful paintings by stuart and i guess it was worth the wait. they have both been recently conserved, as well, from the bank of america grant. so, they are looking their very best. there are other paintings in this room, let's go across over here to -- this is captain joseph anthony, this was painted by stuart when he was in new york.
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joseph anthony is stuart's uncle. he was one of the contacts when he came to this country. he was in philadelphia. and stuart went down to paint him or he went up to new york, i'm not sure. this is his uncle and who was a really good benefactor for stuart. he did a lot for him to get his career started, so he is shown at his desk in a chair. he has his papers in front of him and he is writing. this is an additional portrait of george washington, a wonderful painting that has just come to the gallery from a collection and it has just been hung in the stairwell. it is george washington before the battle of yorktown, painted by rembrandt peale, as we saw already, it was painted in 1829. it is george washington on his horse. his white horse. he is preparing for battle.
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you can see washington -- the challenge that was had, was that washington was a 49-year-old general at the battle of yorktown. at this time, when the painting is taking place, he is a 66-year-old -- actually, he is portraying him as a 66-year-old president, so there is a difference. washington is already dead, but if there is a difference, it is the presidential image of washington that everyone is so interested in. he is shown with alexander hamilton. to the right, on his horse. alexander hamilton was known to be very impetuous and always off to something quickly. that might be what is happening. this is lafayette to the right on the horse behind him. the other generals in the background are known. one is knox, i am not sure who the other men are, but they are known portraits of men.
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in the foreground, what the horse is traveling on is great britain. this is yorktown, of course, before yorktown, but of course that was the concluding battle of the revolutionary war. this is a major addition to our collection and it is wonderful to have it hanging here, to add another image of washington. we have looked briefly at these paintings, but they require much more time to understand what the artist had in mind, and what tools he has used to create that image and all of the details that he has included. you notice some paintings there is very little, very simple. there is very little black and white paint, but he has been able to create an image that is very believable. and -- others by charles willson peale, a portrait, that has so
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many allegorical references, and so much information and if you only take the time to look and understand it. it just requires bringing a fresh eye and trying to understand what the artist tried to do. >> this was the second of a two-part look of american portraits at the national gallery of art. you can view more of this and all other american history tv programs at our website www.c-span.org/history. announcer: vietnam hearings 50 years later, from february 1966, the senate foreign relations senator jchaired by william fulbright gives equal time to critics of the war and members of the johnson administration in hearings that were televised alive to the nation. here is a preview.
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perspective as a historian, what is the value of someone watching this -- these 50 euros hearings? >> we live history from the beginning forward to the end. from the endistory back. we know how the vietnam war ended up. we know the north took over south vietnam and united the nation. we know that everything that we fought the war for, just the opposite happened. we also know -- we recognize the and we have an ambassador there. president clinton got huge when he wentng him to vietnam. it is a very different country. the majority of vietnamese were born after the war. there are more than just the war that they call the american war, that we call the vietnam war. they fought a war with china
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more recently than they fought a war with us. it is a different situation. we know all that. when we hear the testimony given in 1966, none of those people knew how it was going to end. they'll project the end, what they hope is going to be the end. thanks that the north vietnamese will just give up and decide that it's not worth the fight. they will go back to their own and go back to north vietnam and let the south vietnam live themselves. and the viet cong would disappear. george kennan is saying that we have to get out of there in the most face-saving way possible. general taylor is talking about a lot of the realities of the government in south vietnam. none of them know what we know. in fact, some of the books written by diplomatic
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historians, now we now know because they know the end. and mcnamara went back in the 1990's had to confront many of these issues and rethink his politics and had to conclude that the war had been a mistake, at least the way they had fought the war. takes us back to that period. it gives us a chance to actually see the people who were involved as they tried to grapple with creating the policy and the senators who had to decide whether or not they could support or should oppose that policy. announcer: vietnam hearings 50 years later. --ch more on "real a market here on c-span 3 history tv. announcer: up next, we visit philadelphia's

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