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George Washington (Porthole type)

Rembrandt Pealec. 1853

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery
Washington, D.C., United States

Rembrandt Peale, son of American artist Charles Willson Peale, painted George Washington from life in 1795 when he was seventeen. He later made numerous portraits of the president based on his memory of this sitting and on likenesses by other artists. From these he developed an idealized image—known by the Latin name "Patriae Pater" (Father of His Country)-which served as a model for his many so-called "porthole" portraits of Washington. In these compositions, the subject's face is seen through an oval stonework frame-an honorific convention in European art dating from the Renaissance.

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