Gilbert Stuart and the Impact of Manic Depression

1st Edition

Dorinda Evans

Routledge
Published January 18, 2013
Reference - 238 Pages
ISBN 9781409441649 - CAT# Y240804

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Summary

Early American painter Gilbert Stuart has long been mistakenly represented as a hard-drinking rogue, habitual liar, and inexplicable financial failure. To explain his stylistic unevenness as an artist, he is assumed to have had an inferior assistant, but the documentary evidence for an assistant who painted on his portraits is non-existent-in fact, there is evidence to the contrary. This ground-breaking study demonstrates that Stuart suffered from a hereditary form of manic depression, leading him to create pictures that contain peculiar lapses characteristic of a manic-depressive, or bipolar, artist. Using documentary and empirical evidence-from diaries and letters to x-radiographs of paintings-this book fills important gaps in our knowledge of Stuart, and connects the strange visual effects in some of Stuart's paintings with cognitive deficits attendant with the disorder. In addition to Stuart, other bipolar artists, including George Romney, Raphaelle Peale, Gilbert Stuart Newton, and William Rimmer, are discussed in relation to these deficits, revealing patterns which carry broader implications for all manic-depressive artists. This volume is a significant contribution not only to studies of Stuart and the four other painters but also to our understanding of the mind of a manic-depressive artist. It bridges the broad disciplines of art history and psychopathology.

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