Portrait of George Washington
- Joseph Wright, American, (1734-1787)
Joseph Wright made multiple images of George Washington in several formats and media, including paintings, sculptures, and one engraving. Wright's plaster profile of Washington was hung in the Mansion study where it is exhibited today.
There are five known painted portraits, including the one pictured to the left, which all derive from Washington’s sitting with Wright at the General’s headquarters at Rocky Hill, New Jersey in the autumn of 1783.
Washington records Wright's creation of his life mask in this lively and humorous account:
Wright came...with the singular request that I should permit him to take a model of my face, in plaster of Paris, to which I consented, with some reluctance. He oiled my features over; and placing me flat upon my back, upon a cot, preceded to daub my face with the plaster. Whilst in this ludicrous attitude, Mrs. Washington entered the room; and seeing, my face thus overspread with the plaster, involuntarily exclaimed. Her cry excited me in a disposition to smile, which gave my mouth a slight twist, or compression of the lips that is now observable in the bust which Wright afterward made.
Elkanah Watson, Men and Times of the Revolution, New York: Dana and Co., 1856, 119.