This portrait depicts the founder of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., William Wilson Corcoran. William T. Walters acted as chairman of the Committee on Works of Art for the Corcoran Gallery from 1873 to 1877 (the gallery opened in 1874). He was assisted by his friends George Lucas and Samuel Avery. Walters purchased both American and European works for the gallery.
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