George Washington

George Washington
by Charles Willson Peale
The Peabody Art Collection of the
Maryland Commission on Artistic Property
MSA SC 4680-10-0079

Charles Willson Peale arguably was the most influential eighteenth-century portrait painter in the mid-Atlantic region. Born in Queen Anne's County, Peale was largely a self-taught artist; in 1767, members of the Annapolis gentry financed the artist's trip to England to study painting with American expatriate Benjamin West. Once he returned to Maryland, Peale painted wealthy and fashionable Marylanders. He also produced numerous portraits of revolutionary and political leaders, painting George Washington's likeness over 60 times.

This portrait of George Washington was painted by Peale sometime between 1782-1799. According to the Peale scholar, Charles Coleman Sellers, the two small faces in the corners, which would have been hidden by an oval mat, are "evidence that the younger Peales had a hand in this work."  This image of Washington is one of the most enduring in the iconography of the founding father and is part of the Peabody Art Collection, which the state acquired in June 1996. Charles Willson Peale also painted the famous portrait Washington, Lafayette and Tilghman at Yorktown that hangs over the fireplace in the Old Senate Chamber.

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