Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Gilbert Stuart (North Kingstown, Rhode Island, 1755 - 1828, Boston, Massachusetts)


Portrait of James Madison

Creation Date

ca. 1805-1807


early 19th century


48 1/2 in. x 39 3/4 in. (123.19 cm x 100.97 cm)



Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

oil on canvas

Credit Line

Bequest of the Honorable James Bowdoin III


Public Domain

Accession Number

In this portrait of Secretary of State James Madison, painted as a companion to Thomas Jefferson, seen nearby, the leader of a new democratic nation is solemnly depicted without the trappings of royalty or aristocracy. Like his fellow Virginian Jefferson, Madison is considered a Founding Father of the United States, and helped to draft the Constitution. A brilliant political theorist, he helped ensure the Constitution’s ratification by the States by outlining the amendments found in the Bill of Rights. His ideas of liberty, however, did not extend to the hundreds of enslaved men, women, and children who labored on his plantation Montpelier in Orange County, Virginia.

Object Description

October 2010:
This portrait of James Madison, like its counterpart of Thomas Jefferson, includes a French-style armchair.

Keywords: portraits  

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