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Reynolda House acquires masterwork by Gilbert Stuart

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (March 4, 2020) – Reynolda House Museum of American Art has acquired Gilbert Stuart’s double portrait “Anna Dorothea Foster and Charlotte Anna Dick,” (1790-1791), an early and important painting by one of America's foremost portraitists. The work will be on view in the library of the historic house beginning today. 

Reynolda was generously given the work by Charlotte Metz Hanes, wife of the late R. Philip Hanes (Feb. 25, 1926 – Jan. 16, 2011), who said she is committed to supporting the arts in Winston-Salem and to continuing her husband’s legacy. “Anna Dorothea Foster and Charlotte Anna Dick” was the first painting acquired by the industrialist and arts leader Phil Hanes. Charlotte Hanes explains her decision to donate the masterwork: "Phil was so committed to Winston-Salem's legacy of the arts, and painting was such an early love for him, I just knew that the first work that he bought belonged in Winston-Salem. Other museums were interested in the painting, and it was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery. But I thought it should remain in his beloved 'city of the arts.'"

Barbara Babcock Millhouse, the Museum’s founding director and the visionary behind its art collection, said of the gift, “I never imagined that Reynolda House would ever have the opportunity to acquire another painting by Gilbert Stuart, since paintings of this quality are so rarely available today. I was delighted to learn that Charlotte Hanes had a keen interest in donating this work of art to Reynolda. We were honored to accept the gift, and I consider it a fitting way to honor Phil Hanes and his love of American art.”

The painting was executed in Dublin, where Stuart lived from 1787 until 1793. His time in Dublin was preceded by 12 years in London, where he studied the works of Reynolds, Romney and Gainsborough and assisted Benjamin West with his artistic commissions. Stuart’s painting improved immeasurably during this time, developing a sophistication that was not present in his early works executed in America. He painted true likenesses, but also managed to create elegant and artful pictures which appealed greatly to his sitters. Stuart went on to paint for prominent political figures and social elites, including George Washington, and is known as the leading portrait artist of the Federalist period in American art history. 

“Anna Dorothea Foster and Charlotte Anna Dick” has been featured previously in exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Yale University Art Gallery.

About the painting
“Anna Dorothea Foster and Charlotte Anna Dick” shows Anna Dorothea Foster, the daughter of former Speaker of the House John Foster, on the right, and her cousin Charlotte Anna Dick on the left. It is known from a receipt that Foster commissioned portraits of himself and his family members. The girls had previously been identified, based on an inscription on the back of the work, as Miss Dick and Miss Forster, but art historian Carrie Rebora Barratt reattributed their identities to Miss Foster and Miss Dick based on several pieces of evidence, including the receipt and other portraits of the girls.

The portrait shows the girls dressed in similar ivory dresses with pink sashes. They bear a strong resemblance to each other, with long golden brown hair arranged in ringlets, blue eyes, and pink cheeks. Anna, on the right, holds a needlework frame called a tambour and a hook for pulling colored thread through the silk in the frame. As she was approaching her debut to society and marriageable age, this activity identifies her as a refined and accomplished young woman. Her cousin Charlotte holds a paper with the pattern for the embroidery. One can see the ease with which Stuart handles the paint, his surer figural modeling, an innovative approach to composition, and a delicate touch with color that confirms that the artist had certainly reached maturity in London.

Double portraits were unusual in Stuart’s work. In this portrait, he composed the figures successfully by slightly elevating Anna on the right and placing Charlotte in profile on the left. Reynolda’s Stuart portrait of Sally Foster Otis (1809) was intended to be a double portrait, as he originally included Sally’s son Alleyne. Ultimately, however, Stuart painted him out. Over the years, Alleyne’s face has emerged through the paint in a ghostly pentimento. A comparison of the portraits of Anna Dorothea Foster and Charlotte Anna Dick with the portrait of Sally Foster Otis in Reynolda’s collection will yield much rich material for discussion.

About Ralph Philip Hanes, Jr.
Hanes was raised in Winston-Salem in a family that prized art, architecture, gardens and historic preservation. After graduating from UNC and Yale University, Hanes returned to North Carolina to work for Hanes Dye and Finishing. He immediately joined the board of the newly formed Winston-Salem Arts Council. In the 1950s and ‘60s, Hanes was central to the founding of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. From 1965-1969 he headed the National Council on the Arts, which became the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Hanes also helped create and was appointed the founding president of the North Carolina Arts Council in 1965. He was awarded the National Governors Association Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts (1982), the North Carolina Award in Fine Arts (1982) and the National Medal of Arts (presented by President Bush in 1991). Hanes said that “The arts have been the universal language and door opener that help me connect with the most interesting people, ideas, places and experiences, here and around the world. The arts connect like nothing else I’ve experienced. Period.” His legacy lives on, as he is remembered as an arts connector, champion, and luminary of the arts. 

About Reynolda 
Reynolda, in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a rare gem among the nation’s cultural institutions and historic landscapes. The 51-year-old museum at the center of Reynolda’s 180 acres, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, features a renowned art collection in a historic and incomparable setting: the original 1917 interiors of the country manor of R. J. and Katharine Reynolds. Spanning 250 years, the collection is an uncompromisingly selective one and presents a chronology of American art, with masterpieces by Mary Cassatt, Frederic Church, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe and Gilbert Stuart among its collection. The Reynolda experience includes a free app called Reynolda Revealed; touring exhibitions in the museum’s Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing; the formal gardens, conservatory and walking trails of Reynolda Gardens; and more than 25 of the estate’s original buildings repurposed as shops and restaurants in Reynolda Village. Reynolda, located at 2250 Reynolda Road, is adjacent to and part of Wake Forest University. For more information, please visit reynolda.org. Connect at @CurateReynolda on Instagram and @RHMAA on Facebook. 

Image caption:
Gilbert Stuart, Anna Dorothea Foster and Charlotte Anna Dick, 1790-1791, oil on canvas, Gift of Charlotte Hanes in honor of Philip and Joan Hanes, who had the vision of Winston-Salem being the City of the Arts.

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