Skip to main content
Thomas Jefferson
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Date
1786
Object number
NPG.99.66
Exhibition Label
Third president, 1801–1809
A scientist, an Enlightenment philosopher, and one of the most accomplished and complicated personalities in American history, Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence and served his country as statesman, diplomat, and president. In 1803, during his first term as president, he orchestrated the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States and established the nation as a continental power. This expansion, more than any other, forced politicians to confront the growing slave economy, and Jefferson, who like many of the early American presidents held slaves, wrestled with the rift between his philosophical beliefs and the country’s dependence on slavery. John Adams, who served as the American minister to England when Jefferson served as the American minister to France, hosted his friend in the spring of 1786, when both of them were more than a decade away from becoming president. During the visit, Adams suggested that Jefferson pose for the Boston-born artist Mather Brown, who created this portrait—the earliest known likeness of Jefferson.
3er presidente, 1801–1809
Científico, filósofo ilustrado y una de las personalidades más cultas y complejas de la historia estadounidense, Thomas Jefferson fue autor de la Declaración de Independencia y sirvió a su país como estadista, diplomático y presidente. En 1803, durante su primer término presidencial, gestionó la compra de Luisiana, con lo cual duplicó el territorio de Estados Unidos y estableció al país como una potencia continental. Esta expansión, más que ninguna otra, forzó a los políticos a confrontar la economía esclavista, y Jefferson —quien junto a muchos de los primeros presidentes estadounidenses era dueño de esclavos— lidió con la discrepancia entre sus convicciones filosóficas y la función central de la esclavitud en el país. John Adams, que fue embajador de Estados Unidos en Inglaterra al mismo tiempo que Jefferson lo era en Francia, recibió a su amigo en la primavera de 1786, más de una década antes de que ninguno de ellos fuera presidente. Durante la visita, Adams sugirió que Jefferson posara para el artista bostoniano Mather Brown, quien hizo este retrato: la primera imagen de Jefferson que se conoce.
Provenance
John Adams; by descent to Charles Francis Adams, Dover, Mass.; bequest to NPG 1999
See David Meschutt, “The Adams-Jefferson Portrait Exchange,” American Art Journal, Spring 1982, 53-4, n. 47
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; bequest of Charles Francis Adams; Frame conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
Artist
Mather Brown, 7 Oct 1761 - 25 May 1831
Sitter
Thomas Jefferson, 13 Apr 1743 - 4 Jul 1826
Place
United Kingdom\England\Greater London\London
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 90.8 × 72.4cm (35 3/4 × 28 1/2")
Frame (Verified): 102.2 x 82.2 x 5.7cm (40 1/4 x 32 3/8 x 2 1/4")
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Type
Painting