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 Charles Gilbert Stuart  (1785 - 1813)

About: Charles Gilbert Stuart
 

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts      Known for: landscape, portrait & genre painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Trying to forget the flaws and deficiencies of his own temperament, the unhappiness of his own career, Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) concentrated his hopes for the future on his son, Charles Gilbert Stuart, who he felt had great talent as a landscapist.  But he was so afraid of destroying the lad's originality that he refused to give him any instruction.  Charles Gilbert was forced to appeal to Stuart's other pupils for hints at second hand.
 
From the beginning, Stuart had been worried about his son, who seemed to be so like himself; in the tantrums of the infant he had seen his own unstable nerves.  Realizing that he had wasted much of his own life, he determined to save his son from the pitfalls into which he himself had fallen.  He brought Charles Gilbert up with savage strictness.  When the boy did things he saw his father do every day, his father recognized the symptoms he dreaded and flew into a fury.  The years passed with much sternness and many beatings, until at last the young man could be controlled no longer. Then he threw himself into dissipation with more abandon than his father had ever known.  Stuart sat up many a night till dawn, waiting for the front door to open, and when at last the prodigal returned, pale, feverish, so drunk he could hardly stand, the old man wondered if this could be retribution.
 
The boy who was so like Stuart himself, so talented, so uncontrolled, did complete at least two pictures, A Buffalo Hunt and A Poacher, that were lent to the Boston Athenaeum years later.  For the rest, he wasted away under the influence of liquor and late hours.  While his father watched in anguished helplessness, he grew thinner, more drawn, till he could hardly stagger to the haunts of his companions.  Finally, he was too weak to get out of bed; Charles Gilbert died on March 10, 1813, at the age of twenty-six.  Although the official record gave the cause of death as consumption, Stuart felt that dissipation had killed his favorite child, and that it was all his own fault.  The sad expression of his face grew sadder.
 
The poverty his own recklessness had caused forced the father to bury his only son in the strangers' tomb of Trinity Church; the funeral procession consisted of only one carriage.  Unable to bear the house in which Charles Gilbert had died, Stuart moved from Boston to suburban Roxbury.  He inhabited a large, square structure just beyond Shawmut Avenue and tried, as of old, to find peace in the slow growth, the abundance of nature.
 
 
Source:  
Gilbert Stuart A Great Life in Brief by James Thomas Flexner with minor changes by Jacalyn Wolf Heinl

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