This imaginary scene shows fifteen celebrated literary figures gathered at the home of Washington Irving, author of such popular tales as “Rip Van Winkle” (1819) and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820). Advertisements published in the New York Times in December 1863 announced the painting’s exhibition at a Manhattan art gallery, where visitors could purchase a fifty-four-page booklet describing the work. “It is, in the truest and completest sense, a National picture,” the anonymous author declared, and its production “will be universally regarded as a National event.”

The painting resulted from a collaborative effort. The photographer Mathew Brady captured the like-ness of each writer (including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Irving himself), and the artist F. O. C. Darley designed the group composition. Working from those materials, Christian Schussele painted this canvas while Thomas Oldham Barlow engraved a widely reproduced print.


  • Title: Washington Irving and his Literary Friends at Sunnyside
  • Creator: Christian Schussele
  • Date Created: 1864
  • Physical Dimensions: w199.4 x h134.6 x d3.8 cm (Sight)
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
  • External Link: https://npg.si.edu/portraits
  • null: Additional Artist Name
  • Classification: Painting
  • Additional Artist Death Date: 1888
  • Additional Artist Birth Date: 1822

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps