Your blogger spent the day at Mount Vernon, enjoying one of her favorite house museums (it was for work, she swears!) Since George’s chair has already been featured here, how about another of our Washington-themed artifacts instead?

This unsigned, unattributed, and undated (though most likely 19th century) oil painting of George and Martha Washington was donated to the Historical Society by Mrs. Carl Freeman. With frame, it measures 31″ high and 27″ wide. The donor had the painting restored before donation, and through this work it was suggested that a) it was once a larger portrait, and the artist’s name was cut off along with the ‘excess’ canvas and b) it was originally intended as just a portrait of Martha, with George added in sometime later. I enjoy these kinds of portraits, with the nice check-out-how-awesome-I-am scenic landscape in the background – this theme is often found in 19th century portraits, or perhaps this is a later copy of that style. We submitted this portrait to the Catalog of American Portraiture (National Portrait Gallery), but with only our own minimal information. Anyone with insight on the artist or period, let us (and NPG, I guess) know!

This is, in fact, one of several portraits of the Washingtons in our collections. Why so much love for George at MCHS? Though the County does have some ties to Washington and his family*, our mini GW collection stems in part from the early days of the Society, when we were more inclined to accept donations because it seemed like we should. Just as a one-room schoolhouse looks incomplete without George looming over the blackboard, what self-respecting mid-20th century local historical society doesn’t have a portrait or two of the first President?

*He owned land here, and some of Martha’s descendants moved here. Feel free to comment on this post and chide me on my lack of specificity – I do apologize, but I want to get this post published by the end of the day – plus I’ve been told that the more comments on the blog, the more search engines will put it near the top of a list. So comment away!

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