Sarah Weston Seaton with Her Children Augustine and Julia

Charles Bird King (17851862)
Oil on canvas, c. 1815

Private collection

In this playful group portrait painted in Washington, D.C., Sarah Weston Seaton’s (1789–1863) son Augustine (1810–1835) holds a bunch of cherries just beyond the reach of his sister Julia (1812–1889). The book in his right hand makes his purpose clear: The Art of Teasing Mad[e] Easy Washing[ton] 18— .

Sarah’s husband, William Seaton, and her brother, Joseph Gales Jr., were co-owners of the National Intelligencer. Under their editorship, this important newspaper covered congressional proceedings and was the official printer for Congress.

The Seatons, whose home was on E Street, NW, between Seventh and Eighth Streets, played leading roles in Washington’s political and cultural affairs.

Charles Bird King, whose studio was at Twelfth and F Streets, was one of Washington’s major portrait painters, best known for his portraits of members of the tribal delegations that visited Washington in the 1820s and 1830s.