Stuart probably conceived these half-length compositions as seated portraits; the heads are slightly off-center allowing for the figures to be seen to the knees, seated in chairs. For Martha Washington (17311802), he completed only the face and lightly sketched in her white cap. The dark aureole of paintstandard practice in Englandenabled Stuart to select colors for the face that would give a successful illusion of volume. It would have been painted over as part of the background when the portrait was completed. Stuart retained this portrait in his studio until his death but never replicated it.