Charles Willson Peale
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, From Colonies to States, 1660–1830
Commissioned by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, the Philadelphia-based artist Charles Willson Peale painted George Washington as Commander-in-Chief just before the issuing of the Declaration of Independence. Washington enslaved more than three hundred people on his Virginia plantation prior to and during his tenure as the nation’s first president. However, the tension between the existence of slavery and the Declaration’s affirmation of freedom and equality (“all men are created equal”) is absent from Peale’s celebrated portrait.
Oil on canvas
44 x 38 5/16 in. (111.7 x 97.3 cm)
frame: 53 3/4 x 48 x 3 3/4 in. (136.5 x 121.9 x 9.5 cm) (show scale)
Dick S. Ramsay Fund
Charles Willson Peale (American, 1741-1827). George Washington, 1776. Oil on canvas, 44 x 38 5/16 in. (111.7 x 97.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 34.1178 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 34.1178_edited_PS9.jpg)
overall, 34.1178_edited_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2019
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