1932 2¢ Washington
Washington Bicentennial Issue
Issue Date: January 1, 1932
First City: Washington, DC
Quantity Issued: 4,222,198,300
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 11 x 10.5
Color: Carmine rose
U.S. #707 features an image of George Washington taken from a painting by Gilbert Stuart. Stuart, a master portrait artist, made numerous paintings of Washington, with this one being the most famous. Called The Athenaeum, it was painted in 1796 in Germantown, Pennsylvania – but never finished. However, it served as the model of other paintings, and was also used on the one-dollar bill.
George Washington Bicentennial Series
In 1932, the Post Office Department issued a 12-stamp series in honor of the 200th birth anniversary of George Washington. Early designs included themes such as the Washington Monument, Washington crossing the Delaware River, and Mount Vernon. But the final product was a series of portraits by esteemed artists such as Charles W. Peale, John Trumbull, and Gilbert Stuart.
Gilbert Stuart – Portrait Artist
Gilbert Stuart was just 19 years old in 1775, when he traveled to England to study art. He had already proven himself to be a promising portrait painter, and the American Revolution threatened to disrupt his progress. Stuart became a successful artist and one of the best-known painters in Europe. But it wasn’t until 1793, when he returned to the United States, that he truly made his mark.
After moving around a bit, Stuart opened a studio in Philadelphia in 1793. It was there he painted a series of portraits of President George Washington. Stuart, with help from his daughters, made 130 portraits of Washington in all, but he never finished the most famous one – called “The Athenaeum.”
The painting shows Washington from the shoulders up, with no background and only one third of the canvas painted. But it was from this original that Stuart and his daughters based future portraits of Washington. More importantly, this portrait provided the image that is used on the one-dollar bill.