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George Washington

George Washington
Usage Conditions Apply
John Norman, c. 1748 - 1817
Copy after
Benjamin Blyth, c. 1746 - after 1787
Charles Willson Peale, 15 Apr 1741 - 22 Feb 1827
George Washington, 22 Feb 1732 - 14 Dec 1799
Image/Sheet: 32.7 x 23cm (12 7/8 x 9 1/16")
Mat: 55.9 x 40.6cm (22 x 16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Object number
Exhibition Label
Although any fictitious face would have passed as a likeness of Washington at the start of the American Revolution, an authentic image, based on a 1776 portrait by Charles Willson Peale, soon spread rapidly in prints and illustrations. Peale's own modest little mezzotint engraving of "His Excellency Gen. Washington" featured a long nose, almond-shaped eyes, and curls of hair at either side. That face was copied so frequently over the next two decades-appearing in engravings, books, magazines, almanacs, broadsides, and children's primers-that Washington's contemporaries recognized even the crudest versions. Various prints by engraver John Norman added cannon, banners, drums, and swags to the Peale image and were subsequently copied in relief for such ephemeral publications as The Federal Almanack. This unprecedented dissemination of a famous face suggests that Washington's legendary symbolic status began during his own lifetime.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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