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George Washington
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Westmoreland County, Virginia
George Washington’s death on December 14, 1799, caused an outpouring of national grief. Among the funeral orations, memorial poems, songs, and visual images inspired by his demise is this equestrian portrait by William Clarke, which refers to his military and presidential achievements. Washington was also known for his skilled horsemanship. As Thomas Jefferson recalled in an 1814 letter, Washington was “the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on horseback.”
This likeness is based on Gilbert Stuart’s “Atheneum” 1796 portrait of 1796, which was well known through replicas and engravings. The artist, William Clarke, worked in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and in Maryland before moving to Philadelphia around 1796. There he was associated with a group of artists specializing in ornamental painting, portraiture, and the decoration of drums and banners.
Unknown before acquisition by Charles Harry Foster (1914 – 2008) and his wife, Eleanor Morein Foster, in 1994 or earlier.
Credit Line
Gift of Eleanor Morein Foster in memory of Charles Harry Foster; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
William Clarke, active 1785 - 1806
George Washington, 22 Feb 1732 - 14 Dec 1799
United States\Pennsylvania\Philadelphia
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 77.5 × 64.8 × 1.9cm (30 1/2 × 25 1/2 × 3/4")
Frame: 95.7 × 82.7 × 7cm (37 11/16 × 32 9/16 × 2 3/4")
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery