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This engraving is based upon Edward Savage's painting The Washington Family (in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.), the only group portrait of George Washington with members of his family. The print and the original painting depict George and Martha Washington with Martha's grandchildren, Nelly Custis and George Washington Parke Custis, and an African American who is probably William Lee, the slave who had served Washington during the Revolution. The engraving on the table appears to be Pierre L'Enfant's 1792 plan of the new capital city of Washington. The setting, looking north from Mount Vernon, includes a view of the Potomac River. Savage began his painting in 1789-1790, when he first painted individual portraits of the Washingtons. He continued to work on it for six years, exhibiting the finished work in his Columbian Gallery in Philadelphia on Washington's sixty-third birthday, February 22, 1796. The engraving was published two years later.
This image of the first President in his combined civic, military, and familial roles is an important attempt by a contemporary artist to capture and idealize the image of the first President. The image of Martha Washington agrees with Abigail Adams's description of her in 1789 as "a most friendly, good Lady, always pleasant and easy, doatingly fond of her Grandchildren, to whom she is quite the Grandmamma."

Details

  • Title: George Washington and Family
  • Creator: Edward Savage, David Edwin
  • Date Created: 1798
  • Physical Dimensions: w62.3 x h46.8 cm (Image)
  • Type: Stipple engraving on paper
  • Rights: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
  • External Link: https://npg.si.edu/portraits
  • Classification: Print

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