Four prominent portraitists were active in New York
City between 1790 and 1825. Despite working in the
same location, these artists had different training,
developed distinct aesthetics, and often worked for
distinct groups of patrons. Gilbert Stuart returned
United States in 1793 and established himself as the
preeminent portraitist in New York City. This
coincided with a moment of political harmony in the
United States. John Vanderlyn received most of his
training in Paris in the studio of a prominent French
neoclassicist. When Vanderlyn returned to New York
City, Democratic-Republicans, politicians who wished
to tie the diplomatic future of the United States to
France, quickly embraced his French aesthetic.
Conversely, Federalists who wished to further tie
America to Great Britain preferred John Trumbull’s
style. John Wesley Jarvis did not receive European
instead developed an aesthetic that was quickly
embraced by individuals who did not wish their
portrait express political alignment. This
neutrality was one reason why members of the military
preferred Jarvis over his more politically inclined
Bryan J. Zygmont.
Zygmont earned his Ph.D. in Art History at the University of
Maryland in 2006. He has taught at the University of Maryland,
the University of Arizona, and the George Washington University,
and been a Smithsonian Fellow at the National Portrait Gallery.
He is currently Assistant Professor of Art History at Clarke
College in Dubuque, Iowa.