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Lawrence Reid Yates

Date: ca. 1793-1796
Dimensions:
30 x 24 1/4 in. (76.2 x 61.6 cm.)
Medium: oil on canvas
Credit Line: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Object Number: 19.8
Label Text:In this portrait Gilbert Stuart depicts Lawrence Reid Yates in his professional role as a successful New York merchant. Yates leans forward in his chair and engages the viewer with an assessing gaze, while the simple Windsor chair and plain background suggest his modesty and thrift. In portraits of businessmen from this period, Stuart left his subjects' cuff buttons undone, as here, to indicate that they were too busy to care about dress.

Another version of this portrait is at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. X-rays of the two revealed inconsistencies between them, leading scholars to speculate that the Huntington's copy may not be entirely by Stuart. It is possible that duplicate sets were made for different branches of the Yates family. From 1893-94, Stuart painted several members of the Yates family, and two versions exist for most of these portraits. John Vanderlyn worked with Stuart as an apprentice from 1795-96, preparing canvases and painting backgrounds of Stuart's portraits of George Washington, so he or another artist may have contributed to this portrait as well. Those contributions could explain the inconsistencies with the Smithsonian portrait.