Walter Stewart (1756-1796) Artist: Charles Willson Peale (American, 1741–1827)


American Paintings and Sculpture

On view, 1st floor, American Decorative Arts before 1900

Twenty-year-old Walter Stewart immigrated to America from Ireland in 1776 to join the fight for independence, rapidly rising in the ranks of the Continental army. By 1781 he was colonel-in-charge of the Thirteenth and Third Pennsylvania Regiments. Charles Willson Peale captures the jaunty air of "the boy colonel," who was beloved by his troops and renowned for his bravery. Dressed in uniform with his congressional sword of honor on his hip, Stewart stands in the field with his troops camped in the background. In 1781, the year of his portrait, he married eighteen-year-old Deborah McClenachan, daughter of a wealthy Irish merchant from Philadelphia, and the following year commissioned her portrait from Peale (1991.125.2). 


Oil on canvas


50 1/8 × 40 1/8 in. (127.3 × 101.9 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Robert L. McNeil, Jr., B.S. 1936S

Accession Number



18th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.


  • Matthew Skic, Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier, exh. cat. (Philadelphia: Museum of the American Revolution, 2019), 75, fig. Fig. 5.7.
  • Arthur S. Lefkowitz, Eyewitness Images from the American Revolution (Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company, 2017), 200, ill.

Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

military history, portraits


generals swords

Technical metadata and APIs


Open in Mirador

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