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Gilbert Stuart: Views of George Washington

We all carry a portrait of George Washington with us -- on the dollar bill. American artist Gilbert Stuart painted the portrait from which the likeness on the dollar is taken.

From now until the end of July, you can see the original of that famous portrait, and others, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where the National Portrait Gallery has gathered a group of Stuart portraits. The exhibit includes 13 portraits of Washington, as well as depictions of John Adams, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

Whatever he may have looked like in reality, our idea of George Washington is the one preserved by Stuart in a portrait called the "Athenaeum Portrait," named after the museum in Boston where the picture was sent after Stuart died.

Linda Wertheimer talks with historian Gordon Wood of Brown University and other experts about the Washington we see in these paintings.

This story was produced by NPR's Gisele Grayson.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As NPR's senior national correspondent, Linda Wertheimer travels the country and the globe for NPR News, bringing her unique insights and wealth of experience to bear on the day's top news stories.