This painting is one of a group of views of Mount Vernon executed by Russell Smith during or just after his 1839 visit to the estate. At the time, George Washington’s Mount Vernon –and particularly the old and new tomb--were revered as national pilgrimage sites, a place where visitors could experience the greatness of Washington and the founding generation. This inventive painting does not directly feature a gravesite, but incorporates the white fence above the old tomb as an allusion to it. The additional inclusion of a figure in black--likely representing a mourner--suggests the collective national bereavement for Washington during the period.


A horizontal landscape depicting a large stand of trees above the old tomb at Mount Vernon. At the base of the trees at center right, strokes of white paint suggest the paling fence which surrounded the old tomb during the 19th century. A lone figure dressed entirely in black with a black hat is walking away from the fenced area. The Potomac River and Maryland shore are visible through the trees. Bluish underdrawing is visible, particularly around the trees, and in the sky. The background is composed of clouds and blue sky. A cluster of white flowers at front center lead the eye back, and a band of loosely painted white flowers demarcate the middle ground. Another group of trees is shown at far right, and at left, just the tops of another tree is visible.

It is framed in a reproduction gilt wood frame.


c. 1839




Oil on paper board (mounted on fiberglass honeycomb panel); gilt wood


Overall (H x W x D, framed): 15 3/8 in. x 19 in. x 2 1/2 in. (39.05 cm x 48.26 cm x 6.35 cm)

Credit Line

Purchase, 1979

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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