In 1796, James Peale painted this likeness of a mature Martha Washington. Twenty-four years, a war, and the loss of her two remaining children had passed since Mrs. Washington sat for Charles Wilson Peale, James' elder brother, in 1772. The similarities between the two brothers' portrait miniatures betray James' training in Charles' studio as well as Mrs. Washington's lifelong resolve "to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever my situation may be." Her plaited hair on the reverse of this case may have been an inclusion requested by Eleanor "Nelly" Custis Lewis, the likely intended recipient of Peale's work.


Oval, bust-length portrait of Martha Washington; her head and body facing slightly to the right as she looks at the viewer; she wears a white cap with brown ribbon and a white fichu over a brown gown; brown background that is lit from the right.

Gilded copper case with a flexible ring soldered at the top on the reverse; oval glass bezel contains locks of blond hair woven together; a border of scallop and dot- engraved decoration surrounds the bezel.

B: Black leather case with a green velvet interior, which is falling apart. Case is for W-624 A-786






Watercolor on ivory, copper, gilt


Overall: 1 5/8 in. x 1 1/4 in. x 1/8 in. (4.14 cm x 3.18 cm x 0.33 cm)
Other (Image): 1 9/16 in. x 1 1/4 in. x 1/8 in. (3.96 cm x 3.18 cm x 0.33 cm)

Credit Line

Bequest of Margaret B. Smith, to the memory of Henrietta Elizabeth Smith, Grandniece of Martha Washington, Daughter of Commodore John Dandridge Henley, and Wife of J. Bayard H. Smith, Esq., 1910


Proper left side: "JP/1796"

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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