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Sep
20

Charles Willson Peale’s 1772 Portrait of Washington

By
When:
May 18, 2015 all-day
2015-05-18T00:00:00-04:00
2015-05-19T00:00:00-04:00
Where:
Lees Chapel
Lexington, VA 24450
USA

EARLIEST KNOWN PORTRAIT OF WASHINGTON

Compiled by Jim Moyer 9/20/2015, 11/19/2016, update on uniform 7/21/2017

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Click on picture to enlarge

peale - 1772 washington portrait 2 edit

 

This picture was painted in May-April 1772 , the first and earliest known picture of  George Washington.

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He was 40 years old, almost 13 1/2 years after he resigned December 1758 from his rank of Colonel in the French and Indian War, four years BEFORE the Declaration of Independence.

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More context:

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Washington poses in his Virginia Regiment uniform for the French and Indian War, two years AFTER the Boston Massacre, in which the British soldiers were defended by John Adams as their attorney.

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That same year of the Boston Massacre in 1770, George Washington made a journey to the western lands to secure promises of land for himself and for the men who fought in the “last war,” their contemporary name for the French and Indian War.

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To Modern Eyes , these years are all about a known coming future.  To these men, only the past was known. They were tending to it and its impact.

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Back to this portrait.

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This picture shows  George  as Colonel in his Virginia Regiment French and Indian War dress uniform.

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GORGET

You will see the Gorget, a signifier of rank, on many famous portraits. The Gorget, from the French meaning “throat”, evolved from a covering of the throat to a protection of the throat to a symbol signifying rank or prestige.

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SASH

This is probably not the still blood stained Braddock Sash and would honor neither Braddock or Washington in this pose for a portrait. That sash is as strong as a hammock, designed to carry the wounded officer to safety.  A test was performed on sashweaver.com to confirm that utility.  Mt. Vernon holds the Braddock Sash.

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ORDER OF MARCH

Those are the words inscribed on that paper emerging from that pocket.

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WHERE PORTRAIT SITS

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See Lee Chapel and Museum at Washington and Lee University, Lexington VA, founded in 1749, enhanced by George Washington’s generous endowment of $20,000 in 1796.

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Click on picture to enlarge.

peale - location of washington picture 1772

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The picture of Washington displays on left, Lee on right, and in middle sits a recumbent Lee.

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“The Washington portrait once hung in Arlington House but was removed by the Lee’s in 1861 for fear that the Yankees would steal it. ”  See source Old Virginia Blog.

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See this link on Lee Chapel and Museum. Below is not a photo. Use Mouse or Touch Screen to navigate around the Lee Chapel and Museum at Washington and Lee University in Lexington VA.

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WHEN PORTRAIT PAINTED

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Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827)

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From Founders Online Footnote:

Peale “came to Mount Vernon on 18 May 1772,  and GW finished sitting for his portrait in his uniform as colonel of the Virginia Regiment on 22 April 1773…before setting out for Leesburg where he joined Bryan Fairfax.  Peale remained at Mount Vernon to paint miniatures of Martha Washington and of John Parke and Martha Parke Custis.  GW charged Martha Parke Custis’s miniature to her account, and those of John Parke Custis and Martha Washington to Custis’s account. “

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See Guardian Accounts, 3 Nov. 1773.

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November 30, 1772 payment for the painting:

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30— By Mr Peale Painter, Drawg my Picte £18.4.0 Miniature Do for Mrs Washingtn 13. Ditto Do for Miss Custis 13. Ditto Do for Mr Custis 13.8

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Source:

http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-09-02-0025

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17 CHILDREN SIRED

Charles Willson Peale was not just creative but expansive and open to all, embracing much in life.  Expansive not only in teaching his talent to his brother and children, but also for educating the public at large with his museum first in Philadelphia, later in Baltimore.

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Father of 17 children, including the artists Raphaelle Peale, Rembrandt Peale, Rubens Peale and Titian Peale. Brother of artist James Peale. Uncle of Charles Peale Polk.  Studied under Benjamin West.

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See list of children: http://www.nndb.com/people/443/000086185/

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MAMMOTH MAN

That self portrait of artist below? Yes. He’s 81 years old in that picture.

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An 81 year old Charles Willson Peale invites you to his museum and shows you the majesty of his exhumation of an American Incognitum, the first in United States, initially called a Mammoth, but later termed Mastodon by Georges Cuvier.

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An excellent link from the Schiller Institute on this amazing American Artist, truly a Renaissance Man.

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Click on both pictures to enlarge.

peale - welcome to museum peale exhumation of mammoth

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About Peale’s Mastodon Expedition

Peale led America’s first organized scientific expedition on July 29,   1801, to excavate giant bones from the extinct mastodon in Upstate New   York.

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Peale’s expedition traveled north on the Hudson River, escorted by Capt. George Fleming, Commander of the West Point Military Academy, to a   swampy area of Ulster County, New York. It was financed with $500 from   Franklin’s American Philosophical Society, and aided with tents from the   U.S. Army, and a giant water pump from the U.S. Navy to drain the   swamp.

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Peale had earlier seen a local farmer’s collection of very large bones   and now returned to dig at the site of the discoveries. He recovered   bones from three mastodons, two of which were complete enough to   reconstruct and mount for display–the first time anywhere in the world.

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Source: See Schiller Institute link

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Peale’s influence on the Lewis and Clark venture

Peale’s Mastodon expedition and his Museum preceded Lewis and Clark. It is likely they looked at what Peale was doing. This link states: to prepare for it, President Jefferson would   first send Meriwether Lewis to Philadelphia to confer with Peale).

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Source of following quote: Nor is it written anywhere that Lewis visited, for purposes of study, Charles Willson Peale’s natural history museum, the first of its kind in the United States and located, at that time, in Independence Hall, but it would be most uncharacteristic if he had overlooked the opportunity.

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After Lewis died, Clark is on the Writing Project

Source: Lewis & Clark in Philadelphia (Part II): The Map’s the Thing By Ken Finkel  Published: June 4, 2012  http://www.phillyhistory.org/blog/ :

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Source of following quote: After Lewis’s death, the project [of writing about the Lewis and Clark Expedition]  fell into the hands of a reluctant William Clark, who visited Philadelphia to find a more experienced author. As Charles Willson Peale painted Clark’s portrait (illustrated here) he urged Clark to stick with the project…By the Spring of 1814, when The History of the Expedition Under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark to the Source of the Missouri, Thence Across the Rocky Mountains and Down the Columbia River to the Source of the Pacific Ocean finally appeared, the words had passed through the hands of at least seven writers and two publishers and taken six years to write. The book’s map, on the other hand, had remained relatively unscathed…..As far as Clark was concerned, Biddle’s text didn’t much matter. He put his faith in his map of the American West, a map which, inch-for-inch, had it all over any hand-me-down written account.

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Lewis-Clark.org link – Peale working hard to preserve and display Lewis and Clark Expedition finds

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PA state historical sign for Charles Willson Peale

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Correspondence by Washington about Peale

Correspondence between Washington and Peale didn’t start until 1780, but here are some letters by Washington discussing his thoughts about Peale.

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GW’s DIARY:    [May] 18. Went up to Court and stayed all Night. In the Evening Mr. Peale & J. P. Custis came to Mount Vernon.

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Washington writes To Jonathan Boucher, from Mount Vernon May 21st 1772,

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“Inclination having yielded to Importunity, I am now, contrary to all expectation under the hands of Mr Peale; but in so grave—so sullen a Mood—and now and then under the influence of Morpheus, when some critical strokes are making, that I fancy the skill of this Gentleman’s Pencil, will be put to it, in describing to the World what manner of Man I am.

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I have no doubt of Mr Peales meeting with very good Incouragement in a Tour to Williamsburg; for having mentioned him to some Gentlemen at our Court, they seem desirous of employing him in his way down.1

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To George Washington from Jonathan Boucher, 22 May 1772: “I forgot too, in my Lr by Peale, to tell You from Mr S. Galloway, that He had sent You two Cases of excellent Claret (I have tasted it, & it really is good)…”

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From Washington To Jonathan Boucher from Mount Vernon, May 23, 1772,  discusses a sitting for Peale and how he mentions losing “near a hundred” sheep to “rot.”

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Correspondence between Washington and Peale starting in 1780

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About the UNIFORM

Washington’s description of Uniform

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“Colonel Washington expressly orders, that no Officer do provide himself with any other kind of Clothes than those ordered the 17th of September last as they will not be allowed to appear in them. Every Officer who has not complied with that order, to do it immediately—and they are all to procure Sashes, if to be had—They may be supplied with Hats, and waistcoat-lace, at Mr Peters’s, Rock-Creek—and sword-knots—  . . .”

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peale - 1772 washington portrait 2 editAnd the order on September 17, 1755?   GW’s order, “a Suit of Regimentals of good blue Cloath, the Coat to be faced and cuffed with Scarlet, and trimmed with Silver: a Scarlet waistcoat, with silver Lace, blue Breeches, and a silver-laced Hat.”

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Notice GW mentions “blue Breeches” in quote above?

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Notice in portrait  the “Breeches” are red.

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Breeches are the pants.

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 http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-03-02-0232#GEWN-02-03-02-0232-fn-0003

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Red Breeches

to indicate the 1754 difference?


In 1754 the breeches were red.

After that in 1755 the breeches were blue.

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See first portrait of George Washington in this link and scroll down to the uniforms section.

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Another side note:

To those men of 1754 was Dinwiddie’s promise of western lands.

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And that promise was only to those who served on that mission (Jumonville and Fort Necessity battle)  in 1754.

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1754 Proclamation

http://www.sos.ky.gov/admin/land/resources/legislation/Documents/Proclamation%20of%201754.pdf

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More context on the February 19, 1754 Proclamation

http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-01-02-0031#GEWN-02-01-02-0031-fn-0012

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More on the UNIFORM

George Mercer’s description of uniform

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MERCER’S DESCRIPTION OF THE UNIFORM

to see a Sash & Gorget with a genteel Uniform, a Sword properly hung, a Hat cocked, peale - 1772 washington portrait 2 editPersons capable of holding Conversation where only common Sense was requisite to continue the Discourse,

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and a White Shirt, with any other than a black Leather Stock, were Matters of great Surprize and Admiration

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& which engaged Them all to give Us a polite Invitation to spend the Evening,

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& after to agree to keep Us Company which they had determined before not to do—agreeable to what they had practised with the other Provincial Troops.

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We have lost that common Appellation of Provincials, & are known here by the Style & Title of the Detachment of the Virga Regiment.”

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From 17 August 1757 letter Mercer wrote to GW while in South Caroline: http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-04-02-0242

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Final Thoughts on the UNIFORM

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See Lt Col Adam Stephen’s actual uniform – http://amhistory.si.edu/militaryhistory/collection/object.asp?ID=808

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Following is from this link:

http://www.kronoskaf.com/syw/index.php?title=Virginia_Provincials

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1754 Uniform, all red . . . and 1755 Uniform with Blue

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Virginia_Provincials_1754_Uniform_PlateVirginia_Provincials_1755_Uniform_Plate

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And more about the British Army and Colonial Uniforms:

http://www.kronoskaf.com/syw/index.php?title=British_Army

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Virginia Regiment

Supplies and uniform

http://web.hardynet.com/~gruber/varegt.htm

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LINKS to other related matters

Have not found this article, but there should be relevant information here:

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J. Paul Hudson, “Charles Willson Peale’s Silver Gorget,” Antiques, July 1961, pp. 50-51. – See more at: http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/stories/good-fellows-the-walpole-society/5478#notes

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Washington’s gorget, prominently featured in Charles Willson Peale‘s 1772 portrait of Colonel George Washington, was a metal collar designed to protect the throat of the wearer and Mrs. Peter had received the gorget at the division of her grandfather’s estate.[8] Quincy subsequently gave the gorget to the Washington Benevolent Society of Boston in Mrs. Peter’s name on April 13, 1813.[8][9][10]   from Wikipedia link

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Of another side interest of this portrait of a muslim: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/319114.html

 

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