The Washington Family
A portrait of the nation's First Family shows Martha and George Washington with the grandchildren they raised, Eleanor ("Nelly") Parke Custis and George Washington ("Washy") Parke Custis. William Lee, Washington's enslaved personal servant, is dressed in livery and stands behind the family. The Potomac River can be seen in the background. The artist, Edward Savage, stated that the uniform Washington was wearing denoted his "Military Character" and the papers beneath his hand alluded to his "Presidentship," and that Martha Washington was "pointing with her fan to the grand avenue," now known as Pennsylvania Avenue, in the new federal city of Washington, D.C.
The president and his family posed for Savage in New York City when that city was the nation's capital. The artist created a roughly seven-by-nine-foot oil painting of the family portrait that was exhibited in 1896 and became an immediate symbol of national pride. Washington was so enamored with the image that he ordered several stipple engravings based on the painting, including this one, and directed that they be placed in "handsome, but not costly, gilt frames, with glasses." One of the engravings was hung in the family dining room at Mount Vernon.