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 old and new tomb at Mount Vernon were revered as national pilgrimage sites, a place where visitors could experience the greatness of Washington and the founding generation. The estate remained privately owned by Washington descendants, and was beginning to show the effects of heavy visitation. Construction on the new tomb--which Washington had left provisions for in his will--did not take place for several decades following his 1799 death. The remains of George and Martha Washington and other family members were interred there in 1831. At the time of Smith's visit, the arched roof which encloses the inner vault was not yet constructed.


A horizontal landscape showing the red brick new tomb of Washington, viewed from the east. A curving dirt track, heavily painted with brown and white, leads toward the tomb from the lower edge of the painting. Scrubby brown growth appears on either side of the track. The sun—a white orb—is low in the horizon at left, and the background is composed of blue sky and unusually-shaped clouds. The tomb architecture is framed by dark leafy trees, with a small tree set behind its front façade, and a stand of trees in front at center right. A large tree in this group dominates the image, extending to nearly the top of the frame; within its lower branches are two wisps of white, and in front, a pale leafy plant. Another white plant is at far right. Four wooden barrels covered by a white rectangular plank are at the front center of the image. Just to their left are two daubs of white paint.

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 18 5/8 in. x 2 1/2 in. (39.05 cm x 47.31 cm x 6.35 cm)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds donated by Mrs. Arthur Newton Pack, Vice Regent for Arizona, 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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