George Washington

Artist: James Peale (American, Chestertown, Maryland 1749–1831 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Date: ca. 1782

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 36 x 27 in. (91.4 x 68.6 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of William H. Huntington, 1885

Accession Number: 85.1


James helped his elder brother Charles Willson Peale make replicas of his popular full-length portrait of Washington, commissioned in 1779 by the state of Pennsylvania. (A version of Charles' Washington portrait, 97.33, is also in the Met's collection.) The bright color and clean outlines of this small version are characteristic of James's style. After the Continental forces, assisted by the French, had triumphed over the British at Yorktown in 1781, James Peale sketched the battle site, including here a view of the harbor showing the protruding masts of sunken ships. The French and the American flags fly above the general's head and the banners of the conquered lie at his feet.