Gilbert Stuart

American, 1755-1828

Mrs. Nathaniel Coffin

c.1820 Oil on canvas mounted on panel

Gilbert Stuart was the foremost portraitist of the Federal period.  His depictions of the Coffins portray precise facial modeling, warm skin tones, and realistic textures and details against a muted background, which testify to Stuart’s extensive artistic training.  Stuart is best known for stately portraits of Revolutionary leaders, including the portrait of George Washington which appears in reverse on the dollar bill.

Dr. Coffin was a prominent surgeon in Portland, Maine.  He received his medical training at Guy’s and St. Thomas hospitals in London, England.  Upon his return he met and married Eleanor Foster of Charlestown, Massachusetts, depicted in the portrait on the left.  The Coffins are depicted as a couple of means, but not extravagant.  These portraits were commissioned by the Coffins’ daughter, Eleanor.

Gift of Harriot Hopkinson Rive, and Museum purchase with funds provided by The Gilbert Stuart Society, 1999.18