This painting is one of a group of views of Mount Vernon executed by Russell Smith, many featuring the old or new tomb. Washington’s remains had been transferred to the new tomb in 1831, but the old tomb remained an important pilgrimage site, even as it began to fall into disrepair. The artist visited Mount Vernon in the summer of 1839, and produced a related view of the old tomb at that time. This canvas is signed and dated 1836-1893, and represents a return to the subject of Mount Vernon late in the artist’s life. Smith’s painting refers to the progression of the old tomb into disrepair. The artist was interested in documenting nature, and wrote of producing a “portrait of a tree.” Here, he has emphasized the extremely prominent roots of the large tree at far right. In this way, we have Washington’s old tomb dissolving back into nature, and nature appearing profoundly alive. More


Completed in 1893, the work was possibly begun in 1836




Oil on canvas; gilt wood


Overall (H x W x D, framed): 21 1/4 in. × 17 3/4 in. × 2 3/8 in. (53.98 cm × 45.09 cm × 6.03 cm)
Overall (H x W, canvas): 15 1/2 in. × 12 in. (39.37 cm × 30.48 cm)


Purchased with funds provided by Mrs. Arthur Newton Pack, Vice Regent for Arizona, 1977


In black paint at lower left of canvas: “RS. 1836-1893.”

Object Number



Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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