George Washington, after Gilbert Stuart
Robert Field, American (born England), 1769 - 1819
The British born miniaturist Robert Field was Gilbert Stuart’s choice for executing watercolor on ivory replicas of his highly sought after Washington portraits conceived in Philadelphia in the 1790’s. Trained at London’s Royal Academy, Field first arrived in Philadelphia via Baltimore and resided with the miniaturist, Walter Robertson (c. 1750-1802) and the engraver, James Barralet (c. 1747-1815) both of whom had emigrated from Ireland. Like other émigrés these men came to Philadelphia to avail themselves of commissions flowing from the elite, wealthy, international society that surrounded George Washington during his Presidency. Field engaged in the blossoming art world of Philadelphia, first as a founding member of America’s first art academy, the Columbianum, spearheaded by Charles Willson Peale in 1794, and then, slightly later, as a dissenting voice and member of a rival organization. Like many other artists, Field left Philadelphia for Washington when the capitol city was relocated and, in 1805 he followed Stuart to Boston, where he continued to replicate Washingtons and paint miniature portraits of many of the Stuart’s other sitters. It has been suggested that Field’s departure for Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1808 was due to escalating political tensions between the U.S. and Britain but he remained there until 1816 when he moved to Kingston, Jamaica where he died of yellow fever.