Label

In the spring of 1772, Charles Willson Peale visited Mount Vernon and painted miniatures of Martha Washington's children, John "Jacky" and Martha "Patsy" Parke Custis. At Jacky's insistence Martha's likeness was also captured, resulting in the earliest known depiction of her as Washington's wife. It shows her wearing a lilac-colored gown, pearl choker, and jeweled ornament in her hair. In the late-eighteenth century, the miniature of Martha was remounted into a pendant with a later copy of Peale's miniature of Jacky on its reverse. Although the posthumous portrait is based on the 1772 original, the sitter's clothing post-dates his lifetime, effectively bringing his memory into the present.

Description

A:
Ivory miniature set in an oval gold, double-faced, pendant mount. Oval ivory ground painted in polychrome watercolors depicting forty one year old Martha Washington looking to the proper left. She wears a purple dress edged in matching lace and a white fichu. Her jewelry includes a single-strand pearl choker with a strand of pearls woven in her hair and a thin length of gold striped fabric that falls from her dark hair to be secured at her breast knot. The shaded blue background is lightest to the right. Lit from top left. The miniature is protected by a scalloped and engraved gold spacer. An oval glass cover is set into the engraved and flat chased gold bezel with a beaded edge and a pendant loop. On the reverse is another ivory miniature painted in polychrome watercolors depicting John Parke Custis.

B:
Ivory miniature set in an oval gold, double-faced, pendant mount. Oval ivory ground painted in polychrome watercolors depicting John Parke Custis looking to the proper right. He wears a white frilled shirt with a white cravat under an embroidered standing collar waistcoat and green jacket with a high red collar and large brass buttons. Shaded blue background is lightest to the right. Lit from center top. The miniature is protected by a scalloped and engraved gold spacer. An oval glass cover is set into the engraved gold bezel with a beaded edge and a pendant loop. On the reverse is another ivory miniature painted in polychrome watercolors depicting forty one year old Martha Washington.

Date

1772; refashioned c. 1790


People


Geography


Material/Technique

Ivory, gold, copper alloy, glass, watercolor


Dimensions

Overall: 2 3/8 in. x 1 13/16 in. (6.05 cm x 4.6 cm)
Other (A: ivory): 1 1/2 in. x 1 1/4 in. (3.81 cm x 3.1 cm)
Other (B: ivory): 1 3/4 in. x 1 1/2 in. (4.37 cm x 3.81 cm)


Credit Line

Purchase, 1956


Object Number

W-2102/A-B


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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