In 1757, George Washington began a three-year building campaign to transform Mount Vernon into an elegant country home in the British manner. Above the chimney in the West Parlor, one of the most elaborate rooms in the house, he installed "A Neat Landscape - after Claude Lorrain" sent from London. The idyllic landscape was a loose translation of the work of the seventeenth-century French master, Claude Lorrain (c. 1605-1682) whose dramatic scenery often overshadowed the figures and any narrative. In this work, a shepherd pauses to contemplate the ships in the sunny harbor.


Horizontal, rectangular landscape painting depicting ships at sea in the proper right background and a dark, forested coast in the foreground; stands of trees frame the view of the ships and sea; at the proper right foreground, a shepherd with his back turned toward the viewer leans on his staff and gazes at the ship which is near the coast in the middle distance; in addition to the ship near the coast, three smaller ships of varying sizes are depicted on the horizon; a flock of sheep is scattered along the path that parallels the lower edge of the painting; the proper left foreground of the painting, below the tree framing the sea, is an indistinguishable dark mass; the sun shines in the sky above the largest ship.


c. 1757




Oil on canvas


Overall: 21 1/2 in. x 36 in. (54.61 cm x 91.44 cm)

Credit Line

Transferred to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association through the generosity of John Augustine Washington III, 1860

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

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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