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Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson
Artist
Mather Brown, 7 Oct 1761 - 25 May 1831
Sitter
Thomas Jefferson, 13 Apr 1743 - 4 Jul 1826
Date
1786
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 90.8 × 72.4cm (35 3/4 × 28 1/2")
Frame (Verified): 102.2 x 82.2 x 5.7cm (40 1/4 x 32 3/8 x 2 1/4")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; bequest of Charles Francis Adams; frame conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Object number
NPG.99.66
Exhibition Label
Third president, 1801–1809
A scientist, an Enlightenment philosopher, and one of the most accomplished—and complicated— personalities in American history, Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence and served his country as statesman, diplomat, and president. In 1803, during his first term as president, he orchestrated the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States and established the nation as a continental power. This expansion, more than any other, forced politicians to confront the U.S. economy’s dependence on slavery. Jefferson, who enslaved more than six hundred African Americans in his adult life, wrestled with the rift between his philosophical beliefs and his reliance on bondage.
In 1786, when Jefferson was serving as the United States minister to France, he paid a visit to see his friend John Adams, then the United States minister to Great Britain. Adams suggested that Jefferson pose for the Boston-born artist Mather Brown, who was living in London at the time. This is the earliest known likeness of Jefferson.
3er presidente, 1801–1809
Científico, filósofo ilustrado y una de las personalidades más talentosas y complejas de la historia estadounidense, Thomas Jefferson redactó de la Declaración de Independencia y sirvió a su país como estadista, diplomático y presidente. En 1803, durante su primer término presidencial, gestionó la compra de Luisiana, lo cual duplicó el territorio de EE.UU. y estableció al país como potencia continental. Esta expansión, más que ninguna otra, forzó a los políticos a confrontar el grado en que la economía estadounidense dependía de la esclavitud. Jefferson, quien en su adultez tuvo esclavizados a más 600 afroamericanos, vivió luchando con el dilema entre sus convicciones filosóficas y su relación con la labor esclava.
En 1786, siendo embajador de EE.UU. en Francia, Jefferson visitó a su amigo John Adams, entonces embajador de EE.UU. en Gran Bretaña. Adams sugirió que Jefferson posara para el artista bostoniano Mather Brown, radicado en Londres para esa época. Este es el primer retrato de Jefferson que se conoce.
Provenance
John Adams; by descent to Charles Francis Adams, Dover, Mass.; bequest to NPG 1999
See David Meschutt, “The Adams-Jefferson Portrait Exchange,” American Art Journal, Spring 1982, 53-4, n. 47
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Place
United Kingdom\England\Greater London\London