This portrait relates to a series noted by the curators of the Marquis de Lafayette Collections at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. The college has collected a number of portrait prints bearing the notation “Gerard pinxt” (painted by Gerard) although no there are no existing records of such a painting. “Prints of this series are dated ca. 1830, and several are of German or Dutch origin….The overcoat is usually buttoned and he wears a white collar and neck-band with a bow or sometimes a ruffle or jabot.” The portrait shown here does not carry a credit to Gerard, but is clearly based on the same source as the one shown on the Marquis de Lafayette Collections web site (see References below). The one shown here was signed on the lithograph stone under Lafayette in the left side, but it is difficult to interpret the handwriting.
At the beginning of the American Revolution, Lafayette left France and joined George Washington’s army, where he was appointed a major general and fought in Valley Forge and Yorktown. He also negotiated for French aid to the colonists. These achievements won him enduring popularity in America for the rest of his life as a popular symbol of the bond between France and the United States. Returning to France in 1782, Lafayette was an active French political figure and military leader in the ensuing years. He also designed the red, white and blue French flag, which remains in use. Lafayette led the French army in a war with Austria, where he was captured and imprisoned, then liberated by Napoleon. He returned to France in 1799. During the French Restoration, Lafayette was a member of the chamber of deputies. He remained highly regarded and influential in French governmental affairs.
“Marquis de Lafayette Collections – Print Collection 2.” LafayetteCollege. http://ww2.lafayette.edu/~library/special/marquis/MarquisFindAids/printcollection2.htm#X (24 August 2007).