George Washington at Dorchester Heights Oil Painting on Canvas After Gilbert Stuart 19th Century Ornately Framed
19th Century, Oil Painting on Canvas, “George Washington at Dorchester Heights,” After Gilbert Stuart (1806). Ornately Framed. Choice Very Fine.
This historic Oil Painting on Canvas measures 36" x 26" (by sight), is nicely framed to an overall size of 44” x 34.25” and is ready for hanging upon display. In this painting, General George Washington stands beside his horse. They are pictured on a high ridge, with the distant city of Boston visible in the background. The painting commemorates an American victory in the Revolutionary War; by occupying Dorchester Heights, the Colonist's troops threatened Boston Harbor with artillery fire and forced the British army to evacuate the city. Here, General George Washington looks calm and in control which implies a certain level of confidence overlooking the battle scene. The interplay of light and shadow in the distant smoke helps express the turmoil that is war. The painting is in beautiful condition having excellent rich color and contrast, displaying quality eye appeal.
Gilbert Stuart is widely considered to be one of America's foremost portraitists. His best known work, the unfinished portrait of George Washington that is sometimes referred to as “The Athenaeum,” was begun in 1796 and never finished; Stuart retained the portrait and used it to paint 130 copies which he sold for $100 each. The image of George Washington featured in the painting has appeared on the United States One-Dollar bill for over a century. In January of 2006, an original oil painting, titled: “George Washington at Princeton” (1779) painted by Charles Willson Peale, sold for $21,296,000 against a high estimate of $15 million. This current example, being painted After the famous original done by Gilbert Stuart in 1806, is impressive, yet vastly more affordable to George Washington and Revolutionary War era collectors.
Another Copy made After Stuart’s original, produced circa 1860, is on display at historic Faneuil Hall in Boston. This Faneuil Hall portrait, is another copy After an original by Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828). As was the custom at the time, painters sold copies of their popular works made by assistants so that the practice might be continued even after an artist’s death. One of Stuart’s assistants was his daughter, Jane Stuart (1812-1888). The painter, Jane Stuart, is credited with that example. She carried on the family business by making at least six copies of “Washington at Dorchester Heights” after her father's passing. The original painting by Gilbert Stuart hangs in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, displayed in the Kristin and Roger Servison Gallery (Gallery 133). As Dorchester Heights is just south of Boston, and was the scene of one of General Washington's historic battles with the British in the eventful year of 1776.
“What George Washington really looked like”
In our “Game Changer” series on art and objects that made a difference, specialist John A. Hays selects Charles Willson Peale’s portrait of General George Washington at Princeton
“It’s loaded with iconography,” says specialist John A. Hays of Charles Willson Peale’s portrait of George Washington after his victory at the Battle of Princeton in early 1777. Commissioned two years later with the view to celebrate and promote the American cause both at home and abroad, Peale selected this critical moment of the War as it powerfully evokes the triumph of the American forces in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
Washington's victories at Trenton on December 26, 1776 and Princeton on January 3, 1777 came at a time when many, including the General himself, thought he was on the brink of defeat. During the preceding months, the American forces had suffered a series of humiliating defeats at the Battles of Long Island, White Plains and Fort Washington, leading them to abandon New York and, pursued by the British, retreat through New Jersey.
At Trenton, with the enemy fast approaching, George Washington decided to station his troops on the western banks of the Delaware and so, on December 7, the army crossed the river, the first of four crossings that would be made that month, and joined newly arrived reinforcements from Pennsylvania. Among those was the artist Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), a lieutenant in a Philadelphia militia unit.
“It was the first significant success Washington had. Winning that battle changed the course of the Revolution,” says Hays, who chose the painting for our Game Changer series on art and objects that really made a difference. From despair to hope, the outlook of the Americans was transformed and hence, this moment of the War is known by historians as the “ten crucial days.” “This is what Washington really must have looked like,” adds Hays. In Peale’s portrait, he says Washington is not idealised: “Look at his body -- it looks like a sack of potatoes.”
Charles Willson Peale (American, 1741-1827), Oil Painting on Canvas, George Washington at Princeton (1779), Sold for: $21,296,000 in January of 2006, against a high estimate of $15 million.