Holiday shopping for the Washington enthusiast in your life can be a challenge, but if you happen to have around $2.5 million on hand, you just might be able to buy them a once-in-a-lifetime gift. Turns out, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is putting a George Washington portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart — the artist described on the National Gallery’s website as “the preeminent portraitist in Federal America” — up for sale to benefit the museum’s acquisition fund. The painting will be sold in January as part of Christie’s “Important Americana” auction, which encompasses everything from portraits and folk art to clocks and furniture.
It’s worth noting that this is not Stuart’s best-known portrait of Washington. That painting, known as The Athenaeum Portrait, was never completed but was used as the inspiration for another portrait of Washington: the one found on dollar bills across the country. Stuart painted dozens of portraits of Washington over the years. As Alex Greenberger writes at ARTnews, The Met also owns an additional Stuart portrait of the first president that he describes as “more famous” than the one being sold at auction.
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Christie’s notes that this particular Stuart painting has been in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection since 1943 when its owner Richard De Wolfe Brixey donated the painting to the museum in his will. The auction house estimates the painting will sell for between $1.5 million and $2.5 million, significantly more than the $18,000 Brixey paid for it in 1924.
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