Gallery of Historical Figures – Gallery Guide

Historical Figure News text

Shah Jahan

Shah Jahan –
Fifth Mughal Emperor,
built Taj Mahal

Shah Jahan (1592 - 1666) led a very checkered life - gaining and losing power prior to obtaining the throne, then struggling to maintain his position with constant conflict. He built the iconic Taj Mahal honoring his wife. He was displaced by his brutal son, imprisioned for eight years until his death. Many famous gems passed through his hands at the apogee of his rule. Here he holds a hat pin containing the famous Table diamond.

George S. Stuart Signature


Yehenara Concubine –
Destined to be Co-Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi

Yehenara (1834 - 1908) as imperial concubine was known by her clan name “Yehenara,” or “Yeho Nala.” In 1860 China was being invaded by combined European nations. It was a power grab. The Manchurian emperor Hsien Feng was dying. Is death resulted in a coup d’état which in turn elevated an insignificant imperial concubine onto the stage as the Empress Dowager Cixi (Tsu Hsi). The key was the son she had borne the dying emperor Hsien Feng. With the aid of clever officials and her brother-in-law Prince Kung, Cixi (Tzu Hsi) held onto her position through three regencies while she was pushed and pulled by political factions. Her genius was her ability to survive. At the end, her reputation was destroyed by British and U.S. journalists.

George S. Stuart Signature

Niccolo Machiavelli

Niccolo Machiavelli –
More Strategist than Villain?

Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a highly placed bureaucrat and diplomatist in the Florentine republic, whose writings over a wide range of topics gave us a penetrating view into renaissance culture and politics. For nearly five hundred years, men in high places have been influenced and encouraged to follow his outline for power as stated in his book, Il Principe (The Prince). The treatise is based somewhat on his familiarity with the notorious Cesare Borgia. A recent biography by Miles Unger paints Machiavelli in a more favorable light.

George S. Stuart Signature

Queen Charlotte Sophia

Good Breeding Stock

Due to the heavy lobbying of her important Mecklenburg-Strelitz family, she was unenthusiastically accepted by the reigning House of Hanover as a consort for young King George III. Charlotte Sophia was seventeen and found George to be welcoming in the long run. They produced fifteen children, all but two lived to adulthood. George was never unfaithful to his wife, and she proved to be an important restraint on the king, who would eventually slip into madness. Charlotte was a patroness of Bach and Mozart, and established the famous Kew Gardens, as well as supporting the Queen Charlotte Maternity Hospotal in London.

George S. Stuart Signature

Woman of San Nicolas Island

The Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island

In 1835 the small island of San Nicolas eighty miles off the coast of Southern California was invaded by Russian fur hunters and the indigenous Nicoleño tribe was removed.  By accident or choice, a solitary young native woman remained stranded on San Nicholas and was not found and rescued until 1853. Unfortunately she died of dysentery only a few weeks later and details of her ordeal were not documented.  How Juana Maria, survived for eighteen years on the desolate island with only a dog as a companion. She has been the subject of scientific research and literary speculation. Her story has become legend and books such as the children's classic Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The Museum of Ventura County engaged George Stuart to create this very special Historical Figure.

George S. Stuart Signature

Mountain Man Historical Figures

Mountain Man of the Early Western United States

The earliest "Mountain Men" began their explorations in the Canadian wilderness of the 1700s. They were primarily French. The Angle-European settlers of the British colonies began trickling west about the same time, but only as far as the Mississippi River. The Lewis & Clark Voyage of Discovery spurred many men to head into the Rocky Mountains. The impetus was to exploit the pelts of beaver and other exotic animals being used in the clothing industry. These men were rough customers who could survive wilderness conditions and the indigenous population. They were loaners and extraordinarily self sufficient. The hardships they survived would be unimaginable today. Men like James P. Beckwourth, Jim Bridger, John Coulter, Moses "Black" Harris, Jed Smith, Joe Walker, Old Bill Williams, William Sublette and Kit Carson were legendary Mountain Men. Their lives and stories produced the lore of the early United States that has captivated the world ever since their time in the West.

George S. Stuart Signature

Roman Legionary, Marius Mule Figure by George Stuart

Marius' Mule, a Typical Roman Legionary

For many the Legion and the individual Legionary, represent the true might and power of Roman Empire. Prior to the Roman Army there was no true free standing armed force in the Mediterranean basin. A fully loaded legionary on the march carried more than his armor, weapons and shield. Each man had a heavy pack held over the shoulder, which included a tool kit and cooking equipment. This burden could weigh 90 pounds or more, and often had to be carried up to 20 miles a day! Legionaries were called "Marius's mules" after the general who started the practice. During the 1st to 2nd Century CE a citizen soldier would be expected to actively serve 20 years for the Empire. With a letter of recommendation he could look forward to retiring from the army with a lump sum pension at 35-45 years of age. During his service he was not allowed to marry and he might be expected to be posted anywhere within the Empire. This Figure was commissioned by a collector of generic military "grunts," the frontline fighters.

George S. Stuart Signature

Holocaust Victim by George Stuart

"The Holocaust" a Painful Remembrance

When a patron wanted to pay homage to the millions of victims slain in the death camps of World War II, we knew the commission would be painful to research and construct.  After extensive study, we decided upon the image of a prisoner in Auschwitz. Unlike most of the  Historical Figures®, "The Holocaust" was mounted in a setting showing the notorious electric fence. Before entering a private collection in New York, "The Holocaust" was exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. "This compassionate sculpture captures the suffering of concentration camp prisoners. It reaches out to our Museum visitors in a profoundly evocative way," said Mark Rothman, Executive Director of the Museum.

George S. Stuart Signature

C. J. Walker

C. J. Walker Broke Ground for Black Business Women

For years I have wanted to do something to honor the history of black Americans. My intentions were impeded during my touring years by booking agents who strongly suggested that I stick to history with which my invariably all-white audiences would identify. Nowadays Americans generally have a more sophisticated view. VMHA docent Patricia Trude has spoken with me on several occasions regarding my doing something in the area of black history. Mrs. Trude suggested that I look into the story of Mme. Walker (1867-1919). Indeed, Mme. Walker's history proved fascinating. Although little known today, she is an outstanding example of the American mythology - if you work hard and never give up, you will achieve success. Mme. Walker went from house servant to becoming the first millionaire black woman and a major figure in black American affairs. All of her successes came before the civil rights movement or the enfranchisement of women. Her story illustrates the remarkable qualities of this segment of our population.

GS Stuart Signature

Zulu Warrior

Ferocious Zulu Warrior Commissioned by Private Collector

Art collectors come in all shapes, sizes and interests. Recently two collectors have commissioned a series of generic Figures, which we normally refuse to do. However, their collection commemorates history's famous "foot soldiers." The Zulu Warrior is the latest addition to their collection. During the mid-1800's, Zulu fighters gained a well-earned reputation as fearless and formidable foes of England's imperial ambitions in South Africa. In this Figure we attempted to capture their grace and ferocity, whether they were hunting lion or engaging redcoats in mortal combat. Soon this Zulu Warrior will enter the private collection in New York, joining a Roman foot soldier, a Roman centurion, a Greek Hoplite, an Aztec Warrior and a Swiss Landsknecht. Another "grunt" is in the works.

George S. Stuart Signature

Composite Image of King Tutankhamun, Salome, Cleopatra, and the Queen of Sheba by George Stuart

60-Year Old Figures Rediscovered
and Restored

Most artists rarely rework their pieces after completion. To the contrary, I enjoy restoring and updating all the Historical Figures, regardless of their age. A recent turn of events is testing that interest and my stamina.

Several years ago, we located thirty some odd Figures of a collection acquired by Monsanto some forty years ago. After a museum fire at their St. Louis office, the Figures were lost, only to be saved by the Hernandez family. We tracked the Figures to Spokane, where the owners are making a valiant effort to prevent further deterioration.

A cooperative program with the owners to restore the Figures was undertaken. The original condition of the Figures was to be restored; using some necessary refurbishment, which a half century of work has developed. It has taken the better part of four years, but the Hernandez collection is once again in condition which will permit their display to a wide public.

Pictured here are the restored Cleopatra, Tutankhamen, Salome and the Queen of Sheba.

George S. Stuart Signature

Boltar Viking Figure by George Stuart

Viking Figure is Latest Warrior

Generic Figures are rarely George Stuart's subjects. He prefers to focus on the recognizable, both famous and infamous. Only in recent years have nameless, frontline warriors of many ages and cultures been exceptions. For a private collection, Mr. Stuart has created several generic fighters, of which the Viking Warrior is the latest. At the request of the collector, the generic Viking was modeled after Boltar, a comic strip character. Other fighters modeled for this collection include a Zulu Warrior, Greek Hoplite, Aztec Warrior, Roman foot soldier, Roman Centurion, Norman Crusader and Swiss Landsknecht. 

George Stuart signature



Images © copyright by Peter d'Aprix