G.W. by Edward Savage George Washington
Edward Savage (1761-1817)
Oil on canvas, 1789-1790
76.2 x 63.5 cm (30 x 25 in.)
Harvard University Portrait Collection,
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Gift of Edward Savage to Harvard College, 1791
Image courtesy Harvard University Art Museums

Self-taught Massachusetts artist Edward Savage painted this portrait as a result of Washington's visit to Harvard College in October 1789. Joseph Willard, president of the college, wrote a letter of introduction to Washington after he returned to New York. "When you were in the Philosophy Chamber of the University in this place, you may perhaps remember, that I expressed my wishes, that your Portrait might, some time or other, adorn that Room. Since that, Mr Savage, the Bearer of this . . . has called on me, and of his own accord, has politely and generously offered to take your Portrait for the University, if you will be so kind as to sit. As it would be exceedingly grateful to all the Governors of this literary Society that the Portrait of the Man we so highly love, esteem and revere, should be the property of, and be placed within Harvard College, permit me, Sir, to request the favor of your sitting for the purpose." Washington is depicted in uniform, with the badge of the Society of the Cincinnati on his lapel. Josiah Quincy, later president of Harvard, "always declared that the portrait by Savage . . . was the best likeness he had ever seen of Washington."



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