New England artist William Matthew Prior painted this distinctive view of Mount Vernon, one of a group of at least thirteen, in the mid-nineteenth century. Now generally considered a folk artist, Prior structured the sale of his paintings based on their degree of finish. Best-known as a portraitist, he began producing landscapes following the advent of photography, and focused on three main themes: Mount Vernon, winter scenes, and night or moonlight scenes. Prior based his Mount Vernon views on a widely-published engraving after W.H. Brooke featuring the new tomb, old tomb and mansion. Each of the works in the Mount Vernon collection is different, showing the estate in different seasons as well as times of day. This unique scene of the estate on a winter evening incorporates all three of Prior’s specialties. Though based on the Brooke, the artist invented the snow and the two unusual foreground figures, who gesture animatedly toward Washington’s tomb. More






Oil on canvas; wood


Overall: 31 3/8 in. × 24 3/4 in. × 3 1/2 in. (79.69 cm × 62.87 cm × 8.89 cm)
Other: 18 3/4 in. × 25 3/8 in. (47.63 cm × 64.45 cm)


Purchased by the A. Alfred Taubman Acquisition Endowment Fund, 1998


On the reverse of the canvas, at middle right, stenciled in black paint: “PAINTING GARRET/ No. 36 Trenton St./ EAST BOSTON/ W. M. PRIOR.”
On bottom edge of stretcher bar, in pencil: “Mount Vernon.”

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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