As a portraitist, Stuart worked quickly, often completing the sitter's face in very few sittings (chatting and telling tales non-stop to amuse and enliven his subjects). He was far more lackadaisical about completing the body and clothing and delivering the portrait. When he left Ireland for the United States in 1793, he remarked that the artists of Dublin would be busy for years completing the unfinished portraits he left behind. Many letters and anecdotes refer to determined efforts by sitters ranging from Jerome Bonaparte to Martha Washington to obtain their portraits from his studio after long delays. Sometimes his portraits were completed by others; unfinished Stuart portraits were often praised just as they were, and may well have been framed and displayed. There are reports of some being exhibited as early as the 1830s.
Stuart studied in London with the acclaimed American painter Benjamin West.
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