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Scottish-born Alexander Charles Stuart was an accomplished ship portrait and marine painter who worked primarily on navy bases and shipyards along the Delaware River, as well as in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York. In an 1896 account of his life, Stuart recorded that he had grown up in Glasgow, then a major shipbuilding city, and studied engineering and medicine before serving with the English army in the Crimean War (1853-56) and Indian Mutiny (1857-60). He immigrated to Chester, Pennsylvania around 1861. Upon his arrival in America, Stuart first served in the marines and then joined the Union navy, when he began to create ship paintings and watercolors.
Stuart became a United States citizen after resigning from the navy in 1866. Thereafter, he worked primarily as an artist and illustrator for the merchant shipbuilding companies of John Roach & Son in Chester from 1872 to 1880 and then with Harlan & Hollingsworth in Wilmington, Delaware through the late 1880s. During this time, he became well known for documenting many of the early iron steamships built by these firms in the latter nineteenth century.
In 1882, Stuart began traveling to New York to establish his reputation as an artist there, but was unsuccessful. The following year, he left for Florida, settling first in St. Augustine and then in Eustis where he worked primarily as a physician around 1883 to 1884. Stuart returned to the Wilmington area from 1886 to 1895 and then moved with his daughter to Camden New Jersey. Although his fortunes declined in his final years, he continued to paint marine subjects until his death in 1898.
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