Born Charleston (formerly Charles Town), South Carolina

Serving as an aide-de-camp to General George Washington, John Laurens demonstrated bravery, even recklessness, in battle. Taken prisoner in May 1780, he commissioned this tiny portrait in Philadelphia following his parole, probably as a memento for his wife, who was living in England with their young daughter. In 1781, Laurens obtained France�s commitment to station a fleet off the American coast, enabling Washington�s army to defeat the British forces at Yorktown.


  • Title: John Laurens
  • Creator: Charles Willson Peale
  • Date Created: 1780
  • Physical Dimensions: w2.9 x h3.8 cm (Ivory)
  • Type: Watercolor on ivory
  • Rights: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired with the generous support of an anonymous donor Conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
  • External Link: https://npg.si.edu/portraits
  • Classification: Painting

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