We called in at the birthplace of Gilbert Stuart, the local artist who made good in London. Born in North Saunderstown, he moved to Newport aged seven. His father operated a small rural snuff mill. Aged 14, he was taught to paint by Cosmo Alexander, a travelling Scot, who took him away to Philadelphia, Virginia and ultimately to Edinburgh, where Alexander died. Stuart then worked his way back to Newport as a crewman on a collier. In Newport, he made a living painting rather wooden portraits of local grandees, but he left for London in 1775, when trouble was brewing in the colonies. He worked to begin with as a church organist until he appealed to Benjamin West to take him on as a pupil. In 1782, he made his reputation by exhibiting a portrait of a Scotsman, William Grant, skating (now known as The Skater and in the NGA Washington) in the RA’s annual exhibition. He claimed to have been ‘lifted into fame by a single picture’. Two years later, he greatly annoyed Reynolds by painting an unidealised portrait of him looking old, a bit bleary eyed and taking snuff. Later on, when back in the United States as a successful portrait painter, he told Washington Allston that ‘Reynolds was a good painter, but he has done incalculable mischief to the rising generation by many of his remarks…You can elevate your mind as much as you can; but, while you have nature before you as a model, paint what you see and look with your own eyes’.