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. 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 Mount Vernon views in the MVLA collection is different, showing the view in different seasons as well as times of day. In this painting, a version of Prior’s most Mount Vernon well-known scene (a day view during spring or summer), the lack of detail suggests it was priced lower than some of the other canvases.
Horizontal landscape view of Mount Vernon in spring or summer, with the new tomb in the left foreground, and the mansion, colonnade, and kitchen above on a hill in the left background. The “summer house” pavilion is in the center, with the old tomb below and just to the right of it. A large tree appears in the right foreground, and the Potomac River and Maryland shore appear behind it at right. The palette is unusually lurid. In the river is a large area of mustard yellow, gold, and orange, perhaps intended as a sunset reflection. Just to the left on shore is a tree with golden leaves. Orange and peach highlights appear on bushes throughout. The new tomb is a vivid red-orange color with irregularly spaced black lines to suggest bricks. The sky behind is very bright blue, with salmon pink in the clouds, and the mountains appear purple with pink accents.
It is framed in a reproduction brown wood frame.