George Washington (1732-99) revolutionary army officer and first President of the U.S.A.
Oil on canvas1918
About the work
Interpretation about this artwork is under review
Place: Ministry of Defence, Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich
George Washington leans against a British Canon, with crossed legs and one hand resting on his hip. He is shown just after his victory at the Battle of Princeton on 3 January 1777, when the British army, lead by Lord Cornwallis, were defeated. This painting is a copy of a work which was formerly in the collection of the Earl of Albemarle, Quidenham Hall, Norwich, Norfolk. It was presented by the Earl and Countess of Albemarle in 1918, to commemorate the USA’s entrance into the Great War.
Peale painted Washington more times than any other artist. His original version of this painting is now in the collection of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, although he made an estimated 18 replicas. This copy by William A. Menzies is larger than the original in both height and width. The other significant distinction between this and Peale’s original version is that the British flag, crumpled on the ground in the original, has been omitted entirely, indicating that the work was intended for a British collector.
About the artist
Charles Willson Peale was born in Chester, Maryland, on the east coast of the USA. He initially trained as a sadler but, after going bankrupt, studied painting under John Hesselius and John Singleton Copley. He later travelled to London to receive tuition from American émigré Benjamin West, returning to Maryland in 1767. By 1777, he was a Captain in the Pennsylvania militia and was at the front line during the Battle of Princeton. He is therefore one of the few artists of a battle scene to have also served in the same conflict. Peale painted Washington more times than any other artist. His earliest version is now in the collection of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, although he made an estimated 18 replicas in total.
William A. Menzies worked as a copyist, making numerous accurate reproductions of works by other artists. In total there are six copies by Menzies in the Government Art Collection, all of which were painted between 1910 and 1918.
- George Washington (1732-99) revolutionary army officer and first President of the U.S.A.
- Oil on canvas
- height: 240.00 cm, width: 148.50 cm
- Presented by the Earl of Albemarle, 1919
- verso on canvas (before relining): George Washington / after portrait at Quidenham / by Peale, / belonging to the Rt. Honble. / The Earl of Albemarle CB / 1918. / W. A. Menzies // Presented by The Earl & Countess / of Albemarle to commemorate the entrance / of the U.S.A. into the Great War.
- Presented by Earl & Countess of Albemarle to HM Government in 1919 to commemorate entrance of USA into the Great War. Copy painted in 1918 by W A Menzies after portrait belonging to Lord Albemarle at Quidenham
- GAC number