George Washington's Eye: Landscape, Architecture, and Design at Mount Vernon (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).
On the banks of the Potomac River, Mount Vernon stands, with its iconic portico boasting breathtaking views and with a landscape to rival the great gardens of Europe, as a monument to George Washington’s artistic and creative efforts. More than one million people visit Mount Vernon each year—drawn to the stature and beauty of Washington’s family estate.
Art historian Joseph Manca systematically examines Mount Vernon—its stylistic, moral, and historical dimensions—offering a complete picture of this national treasure and the man behind its enduring design. Manca brings to light a Washington deeply influenced by his wide travels in colonial America, with a broader architectural knowledge than previously suspected, and with a philosophy that informed his aesthetic sensibility.
Washington believed that design choices and personal character mesh to form an ethic of virtue and fulfillment and that art is inextricably linked with moral and social concerns. Manca examines how these ideas shaped the material culture of Mount Vernon.
Based on careful study of Washington’s personal diaries and correspondence and on the lively accounts of visitors to his estate, this richly illustrated book introduces a George Washington unfamiliar to many readers—an avid art collector, amateur architect, and leading landscape designer of his time.
Joseph Manca is the Nina J. Cullinan Professor of Art History at Rice University, and his areas of research interest include Renaissance, Baroque, and early American art and architecture. He has published numerous articles on Italian Renaissance and early American art; recent studies include an essay on Leonardo da Vinci's Cecilia Gallerani and a study of the Hudson Valley Dutch and the origins of the American porch. Manca's books include The Art of Ercole de' Roberti; Titian 500; Cosmè Tura: The Life and Art of a Painter in Estense Ferrara; Moral Essays on the High Renaissance: Art in Italy in the Age of Michelangelo; and Andrea Mantegna and the Italian Renaissance. A forthcoming book is his Subject Matter in Italian Renaissance Art: A Study of Early Sources. Currently in progress is a book on Shaker ideology and material culture.