William Birch's prospect of Mount Vernon's east front was one of the most widely circulated images of the estate in the nineteenth century. The English-born artist possibly executed this finely-detailed sketch, from which all the later engravings are derived, as early as 1801 - making it a very rare early view. Birch carefully delineated the architectural features, including such elements as the post and chain fence around the carriage circle beyond the colonnade, the Palladian window at the north end of the mansion, and the entrance to the cellar, as well as a figure representing George Washington on the piazza. The work was engraved by at least 1804, and appeared in Birch’s 1808 publication Country Seats of the United States. There he hailed it as “This hallowed mansion . . . founded upon a rocky eminence.” The estate’s new status as a sacred national shrine drove both print sales and increased visitation to the actual site.



c. 1801-1803




Watercolor, ink over graphite on paper


Overall (H x W): 10 1/8 in. × 13 1/2 in. (25.72 cm × 34.29 cm)
Other (H x W Image Sheet): 7 1/4 in. × 9 7/8 in. (18.42 cm × 25.08 cm)


Gift of Robert L. McNeil, Jr., 2005
Conservation courtesy of the Roller-Bottimore Foundation

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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