Mount Vernon regularly rotates objects and manuscripts in the permanent galleries of the Donald W. Reynolds Museum & Education Center. Learn more about some of the fascinating recent additions.

Edward Savage and the Image of George Washington

George Washington, Esq.
Engraved by Edward Savage, after a painting by him
Mezzotint. London, 1793

While lower-quality engravings of George Washington were abundant in the Early Republic, there were few fine prints suitable for display in gentry homes. New England artist Edward Savage filled this void with a series of mezzotints and engravings depicting Washington individually or with his family.

Savage first encountered Washington in 1789, when he painted a portrait for Harvard College. He reproduced the face from this portrait in several prints. His most popular version, The Washington Family, depicts Washington in his blue-and-buff uniform looking over a map of the District of Columbia. Martha Washington accompanies him at the table, while his two step-grandchildren, George Washington Parke Custis and Eleanor (Nelly) Parke Custis, look on. Dressed in Washington family livery, an enslaved servant—possibly Christopher Sheels—waits on the family. The Potomac River in the background connects the family to both Mount Vernon and the new Federal City.

George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were often identified together in the years after the American Revolution. In 1793, Edward Savage engraved these two prints to hang as a pair. The portrait of Washington shows him as President, in a black velvet suit, looking over a map of the recently created District of Columbia; Franklin is shown studying papers below a bust of English scientist Isaac Newton. Savage sent a pair of these prints to George Washington as a gift, while this set belonged to King Louis Philippe of France.

Benjamin Franklin, L.L.D., F.R.S.
Engraved by Edward Savage, after David Martin
Mezzotint. London, 1793

Courtesy of Randall and Kelly Schrimsher

The Washington Family

Engraved by Edward Savage
Color stipple engraving. Philadelphia, 1798

In June 1798, Edward Savage sent this print to Martha Washington as a gift. He noted that it was “printed in Colours,” rather than black and white and that he believed she would “like it better than a plain print.” This engraving is likely the one that hung in Mount Vernon’s dining room.

Gift of the Robert E. Wright Family, in memory of Dorothy Walton Wright and Robert Edward Wright, 2012 [W-5298]

Conservation courtesy of The Founders, Washington Committee Endowment Fund

Silhouette of George Washington

Silhouette of George Washington
Made by Samuel Folwell
Probably Charleston, South Carolina, 1791
Ink on paper

“…an admirable likeness”
In an age before photography, a silhouette cut in the profile of a face provided an inexpensive means to recall or share the likeness of a friend or loved one. Philadelphia-based artist Samuel Folwell created this silhouette in 1791, when George Washington visited Charleston as part of his tour of the southern states. He may have captured this image when Washington appeared at a public venue, as the President did not record sitting for Folwell.

Gift of Dr. David D. Nelson [M-5388/A-B]

Blackbuck

Attributed to Martha Washington, ca. 1790–1799
After a painting by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, France, 1739
Silk embroidery on silk

Identified in George Washington’s probate inventory as “The Likeness of a Deer,” this striking needlework actually depicts an exotic blackbuck (a species of antelope), imported from India to France and displayed in the royal French menagerie at Versailles. The tiny stitches imitate the engraving on which the embroidery was based.

Courtesy of Walter Gibson Peter III
Conservation courtesy of The Founders, Washington Committee Endowment Fund

View of the North Front of Belvidere, Richmond

Drawn by Benjamin Henry Latrobe
Richmond, Virginia, 1795--1798
Ink and watercolor on paper

Benjamin Henry Latrobe, later architect of the U.S. Capitol, was a frequent guest at Belvidere, Bushrod Washington’s estate near Richmond. Latrobe likely presented this drawing to Washington as a token of friendship. Latrobe recorded the massive size of the house along with its prominent location on the James River.

Courtesy of Dr. Peter C. Anthony

Bushrod Washington

Painted by Henry Benbridge
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1783
Oil on canvas

At age 21, while studying law in Philadelphia, Bushrod Washington had this portrait taken at his mother’s request. The artist captured the sitter’s contemplative nature—depicting him with book in hand with “a mixture of thought and Pensiveness” as if he had just stopped reading.

Bequest of Margaret Chew, 1972 [H-2620]
Painting conservation courtesy of the Helen Parker Willard Foundation
Frame conservation courtesy of The Founders, Washington Committee Endowment Fund

Mount Vernon

Worked by Mary W. Inness
Philadelphia, 1820
Silk and metallic embroidery and paint on silk

Schoolgirl Mary W. Inness used embroidery and watercolor to create this picture as a testament to her patriotism and needle-working skills. She, or her teacher, first enlarged the design of William Birch’s print and sketched it onto the ground cloth. Mary then embroidered the design using the print as a guide for the colors, and then painted in the faces and the sky. 

Courtesy of Mrs. Frank L. Coulson, Jr., Vice Regent for Pennsylvania

Major General Nathanael Greene’s Society of the Cincinnati Eagle

Made by Duval and Francastel
Paris, France, 1784
Gold, enamel, silk

Major General Nathanael Greene, the leader of the Continental Army’s Southern Campaign, owned this Eagle, or badge--the official insignia of the Society of the Cincinnati. This example was among the first commissioned by Pierre L’Enfant in Paris. Members wore the Eagle hanging from a blue and white ribbon on their lapels.

Courtesy of Brian and Barbara Hendelson

Lancaster Long Rifle

Courtesy of Patrick Hornberger, Eastwind Publishing

Made by George Frederick Fainot
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, ca. 1770
Wood, iron, brass

An invention of the American frontier, the Lancaster long rifle was lighter and more accurate than its European counterparts, making it suitable for carrying long distances and use on rough terrain. This impressive example may have seen service in the American Revolution.

Collection of Bruce and Natalie Larson

Draft of “The Institution of the Society of the Cincinnati”

Written by Baron von Steuben, May 10, 1783

While encamped on the Hudson River, a committee of Continental Army officers drafted the founding document of the Society of the Cincinnati. The document states that the organization’s main purpose is to perpetuate the “mutual friendships which have formed under the pressure of common danger [the American Revolution].”

Courtesy of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Letters from Washington to Thomas Jefferson

George Washington to Thomas Jefferson (draft), October 13, 1789
Washington sent this letter to Jefferson, then American Minister to France, asking Jefferson to serve as the first Secretary of State. Recognizing Jefferson’s abilities, he wrote “In the selection of characters to fill the important offices of Government…I was naturally led to contemplate the talents and disposition which I know you possess…” 

This letter is one of a series of George Washington letters loaned to Mount Vernon from the National Archives since 2012 on a rotating basis.

Courtesy of National Archives, Washington, D.C.

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