Stuart was an important portrait painter of Colonial America and the early Republic. Stuart worked in Philadelphia from 1770-1771, working for Scottish artist Cosmo Alexander, traveling to Scotland in 1772, and returning to Rhode Island in 1773, where he painted portraits for the next two years. During the American Revolution, Stuart lived in London where he worked in the studio of Benjamin West from 1777-1782. Combining lessons he learned from West and the work of Reynolds and Gainsborough, he gained recognition from 1782. Beginning in 1794, Stuart began to work on his famous portraits of George Washington: “The Vaughn Portrait” (1794-95), reproduced on the dollar bill, “The Athenaeum Portrait” (1796), and the full-length “Landsdowne Portrait” also of 1796.