Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Artist:
David Edwin, 1776 - 1841  Search this
Copy after:
Rembrandt Peale, 22 Feb 1778 - 3 Oct 1860  Search this
Alleged:
George Washington, 22 Feb 1732 - 14 Dec 1799  Search this
Sitter:
Richard Montgomery, 2 Dec 1738 - 31 Dec 1775  Search this
Joseph Warren, 11 Jun 1741 - 17 Jun 1775  Search this
Medium:
Stipple engraving on paper
Dimensions:
Sheet: 60.7 x 46.3 cm (23 7/8 x 18 1/4")
Culture:
Richard Montgomery: European\Irish  Search this
Type:
Print
Date:
c. 1800
Exhibition Label:
George Washington's presidency coincided with the advent of a real printmaking industry in the United States. With the demand booming for both illustration and popular prints for framing, engravers could now enjoy a steady market. Washington's growing status as a national icon after the Revolutionary War spurred the fledgling industry to supply the demand for inexpensive portraits. Various engravings show Washington as a military commander, a noble citizen-who, like the Roman Cincinnatus, gave up his power to return to his farm-a statesman, and a heroic symbol of his country. Readily accessible pictures-printed portraits, cartoons, broadsides, photographs, posters, and eventually film-have played a role in presidential politics ever since.
Interpreting the death of Washington
Americans responded to George Washington's death on December 14, 1799, with an outpouring of oratorical and pictorial tributes that encompassed various approaches to death, grief, and glorification. Enoch Gridley's engraving includes the traditional elements of fashionable neoclassical mourning art: portrait, urn, obelisk, and weeping figure of Columbia. Additional allegorical figures further exalt the "father of his country," personifying, according to a published broadside, Fame, Wisdom, Liberty, and Truth. David Edwin's Apotheosis engraving implies a religious transformation as Washington ascends from his earthly home to be welcomed by heroes on high. The more secular deathbed scene, depicting Washington's physicians taking his pulse with the aid of a stopwatch, related to published accounts of his stoic final moments. Americans could buy the same image, along with a companion mourning picture, in the form of a printed handkerchief.
Topic:
Nature & Environment\Clouds  Search this
Imaginary  Search this
Architecture\Building\House  Search this
Nature & Environment\Plant\Wreath\Laurel  Search this
Allegorical  Search this
Symbols & Motifs\Putti  Search this
George Washington: Male  Search this
George Washington: Military\Army\Officer\Revolution  Search this
George Washington: Politics and Government\Statesman\Colonial Statesman  Search this
George Washington: Natural Resources\Agriculturist\Farmer  Search this
George Washington: Military\Army\Officer\General  Search this
George Washington: Politics and Government\President of US  Search this
George Washington: Science and Technology\Engineer\Surveyor  Search this
George Washington: Congressional Gold Medal  Search this
Richard Montgomery: Male  Search this
Richard Montgomery: Military\Army\Officer\Revolution  Search this
Joseph Warren: Male  Search this
Joseph Warren: Politics and Government\Public Official  Search this
Joseph Warren: Military\Soldier\Revolution  Search this
Joseph Warren: Health and Medicine\Physician  Search this
Joseph Warren: Education\Educator\Teacher  Search this
Joseph Warren: Literature\Writer\Magazine article  Search this
Joseph Warren: Politics and Government\Patriot  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number:
NPG.77.108
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_NPG.77.108