In 1796, James Peale painted this likeness of a mature Martha Washington. Twenty-four years, a war, and the loss of her two remaining children had passed since Mrs. Washington sat for Charles Wilson Peale, James' elder brother, in 1772. The similarities between the two brothers' portrait miniatures betray James' training in Charles' studio as well as Mrs. Washington's lifelong resolve "to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever my situation may be." Her plaited hair on the reverse of this case may have been an inclusion requested by Eleanor "Nelly" Custis Lewis, the likely intended recipient of Peale's work. More






Watercolor on ivory, copper, gilt


Overall: 1 5/8 in. x 1 1/4 in. x 1/8 in. (4.14 cm x 3.18 cm x 0.33 cm)
Other (Image): 1 9/16 in. x 1 1/4 in. x 1/8 in. (3.96 cm x 3.18 cm x 0.33 cm)


Bequest of Margaret B. Smith, to the memory of Henrietta Elizabeth Smith, Grandniece of Martha Washington, Daughter of Commodore John Dandridge Henley, and Wife of J. Bayard H. Smith, Esq., 1910


Proper left side: "JP/1796"

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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