Greene was born in Potowomut, Rhode Island, on July 27, 1742. Self-educated, he assumed the management of his family's iron forge in 1770. Soon afterward, he was elected to the General Assembly. He helped organize a militia unit, the Kentish Guards. He joined General Washington's staff in 1776. Within two years, he became the army's Quartermaster General. Succeeding Horatio Gates at the head of the army's final southern campaign, Greene engineered successes at Cowpens and Guilford Court House. His strategy pushed the British out of the Carolinas and Georgia, thereby saving Charleston and Savannah. After the war, Greene faced financial ruin when an army contractor whom he had underwritten defaulted on payments to the American government. His battlefield acclaim, however, prompted the state of Georgia to reward him with a landed estate, Mulberry Grove, where he died on June 19, 1786.


  • Creator: Charles Willson Peale, from life
  • Date Created: 1783
  • Contributor: Independence National Historical Park, National Park Service
  • Original Source: http://www.nps.gov/museum/exhibits/revwar/image_gal/indeimg/greene.html
  • Source: Independence NHP
  • Portrait Figure Birth and Death Dates: 1742-1786
  • Ownership History: Listed in the 1813 Peale Museum catalog. Purchased by the City of Philadelphia at the 1854 Peale Museum sale.
  • National Park Service Catalog Number: INDE 14055
  • Measurements: H 23, W 19 in (H 58.4, W 48.3 cm)
  • Materials: Oil on canvas.
  • About This Portrait: Charles Willson Peale recognized the public interest in Greene's military success. He decided early on to have Greene's portrait in his collection of great men. Previously, the artist had painted both Greene's and his wife's miniature portraits (both now unlocated). Stylistically, the museum portrait is typical of the artist's early 1780s work. Greene's hair is painted in wispy lines, his flesh tones are highlighted in Naples yellow, and his upper eyelids are incised with heavy lines. After finishing the portrait, Peale painted a replica (now at New Jersey's Montclair Art Museum) and sent it to London to serve as the basis for a mezzotint engraving. Eventually, the portrait was engraved by American James Trenchard and published in the September 1786 issue of the Columbian Magazine. Peale included the Greene portrait in his October 13, 1784 Freeman's Journal and Daily Advertiser announcement of the museum's collections. Later, Peale's son Rembrandt copied the portrait twice, possibly for display in the family's Baltimore and New York museums (now at the Maryland and Rhode Island historical societies, respectively). Rembrandt painted a copy of the Greene portrait (owned by the Maryland Historical Society) around 1795 for use during a patronage trip to Charleston, and for the Baltimore Peale Museum.

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