Gilbert Stuart, two rediscovered portraits on sale on 12 June 2024

Two portraits by Gilbert Stuart (1755 – 1828)

For sale on June 12 at Tajan in Paris


Tajan offers a rare insight into the beginnings of American painting at the end of the 18th century. The Portrait of William Bingham (1752 – 1804) and The Portrait of Anne Willing Bingham (1754 – 1801) and her daughter Maria Matilda are fragments of a large family portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1784 and cut out by the history and portrait painter Thomas Sully in the first third of the 19th century. The three paintings remained in the same family until the 1850s, when they were separated into two different family branches. The third fragment, The Portrait of Ann Louisa Bingham, is in a private collection.

Gilbert Stuart was one of the very first American painters at the end of the 18th century. During his youth, he travelled between the East Coast of the United States and the United Kingdom. He completed his training in Scotland in 1771 and in London between 1775 and 1787, where he assisted Benjamin West and became close to Joshua Reynolds. He achieved great success with his portrait of William Grant as a Ice scater, exhibited in 1782 at the Royal Academy in London. He continued his career in Dublin before returning to Philadelphia in 1794, where he painted George Washington, the first official portrait of an American president. He went on to establish himself as the leading portraitist of the major cities of the East Coast. He moved to Washington in 1803, which had become the official capital of the United States, and painted the effigies of the first founding fathers and members of the federal administration.


Portrait of Gilbert Stuart
by Sarah Goodridge (1825)


Anne Willing et William Bingham, who married on October 26, 1780, are two noteworthy figures in the early history of the United States.

William Bingham (1752-1804) was first an emissary of the Legislative Assembly of the thirteen British colonies. He played a crucial role in the diplomatic relations that led to American independence. At the age of 40, he became the richest man in the country thanks to his investments during the American Revolution, including the acquisition of land in New York State and negotiations with France for the purchase of Louisiana. Our portrait, painted in 1784, is the first portrait of William Bingham. Bingham was in England on business, probably commissioned to establish his position and mark the beginning of a great future.

Gilbert Stuart (Saunderstown 1755 – Boston 1828)
Portrait of William Bingham, canvas, 45 x 46,5 cm


Anne Willing
His wife, Anne Willing, a penfriend of Thomas Jefferson, is known as the model for Lady Liberty on the first American coins. Also known as “Nancy”, Anne Bingham was one of the most admired American women of her time. She was the eldest daughter of Thomas Willing and Anne McCall. Back in Philadelphia, Anne Bingham held salons in their residence and invited politicians (such as George Washington), artists and scientists.

Gilbert Stuart (Saunderstown 1755 – Boston 1828)
Portrait of Anne Willing Bingham and her daughter Maria Matilda, canvas 85 x 92 cm



Order of a Family Portrait

Our two paintings date from 1784, when William Bingham and Anne Willing were staying in London. Stuart had designed a large family portrait of the parents and their two daughters, Ann Louisa and Maria Matilda, in the style of Reynolds. Anne held her daughter, Maria Matilda, seated in front of her, casting a thoughtful glance at her eldest, Ann Louisa, while William stood behind them in his red hunting costume. Unfinished, the painting was later given by Anne Willing to her sister, Mary Willing Clymer, and then cut into three independent portraits by the painter Thomas Sully: The Portrait of William Bingham; The Portrait of Anne Willing Bingham and her Daughter Maria Matilda; and The Portrait of Ann Louisa (now in a private collection). His free technique, which includes sketches, bears witness to the high level of quality achieved by the first painters of the New World.


Supposed disposition of the fragments




Old Master Paintings & Drawings

Wednesday, June 12, 2024 at 6pm
Tajan Auction house
37 rue du Mathurins, 75008 Paris



Thaddée Prate – Old master paintings & drawings director
+33 1 53 30 30 47 – [email protected]

Ariane de Miramon – Communication, press & marketing director
+33 1 53 30 30 68 – [email protected]