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THE SKATER [WILLIAM GRANT]

Oil on canvas, 1782
96 1/4 x 58 in. (244.5 x 147.4 cm)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1950.18.1


This large picture, shockingly modern in its depiction of physical exertion, was conceived strategically for display in a coveted position high on the wall at the 1782 Royal Academy exhibition. Stuart provided key information in the lower quarter, closest to the viewer's line of vision: the skater etches figures in the ice with his state-of-the-art curled-fender, iron-bladed runners with black leather toe straps so thin as to be barely noticeable on his shoes. For the cognoscenti at the academy, part of the fun was exploring the pictures for hidden meaning. They may have discerned that Stuart used his client, the handsome but unathletic young Scottish barrister William Grant (17501821), in order to pay homage to his teacher, Benjamin West, a well-known and expert skater.


GALLERY:  1. Stuart in Newport & Scotland  |  2. Stuart in London  |  3. Stuart in Dublin  |  4. Stuart in New York
  5. Stuart in Philadelphia  |  6. George Washington Gallery  |  7. Stuart in Washington, D C   |  8. Stuart in Boston

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