Governor John Brooks
American, 1755 - 1828
Oil on wood panel
32 x 25 5/8 in. (81.3 x 65.1 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Edward T. Harrison, in memory of her husband, Edward T. Harrison, 1965 (3370.1)
Outfitted in uniform with a sword by his side, Governor John Brooks looks out at the viewer with confidence and command. Brooks achieved both military and political status, rising to the rank of colonel during the Revolutionary War and then serving as governor of Massachusetts. Despite his subject's static pose, Gilbert Stuart, the preeminent portraitist of federal America, animated the composition with lively brushwork and fresh, vibrant colors. He captured and enlivened surface textures, such as the gleaming gold buttons of Brooks' uniform and his rosy, wrinkled skin. Stuart's fluid handling of pigments and luminous color evolved from European stylistic conventions learned during the painter's training in England and study of eighteenth-century British portraiture.