Portrait of George Washington
Original Author: Charles Willson Peale
Created: 1780
Medium: Oil on linen ticking

Portrait of George Washington

George Washington, commander in chief of the Continental army, rests his left hand on a cannon in this full-length portrait by artist Charles Willson Peale. In the background, British soldiers under guard are being marched off in the aftermath of the colonists' victory at the Battle of Princeton, which took place on January 3, 1777. A flag bearing thirteen stars, for the thirteen colonies, can be seen to the right of Washington.

The Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania commissioned Peale to paint a portrait of the commander to display in its council chamber. "Deeply sensible how much the liberty, safety and happiness of America is owing to His Excellency General Washington," the council made an official request on January 18, 1779, that the commander sit for Peale. Washington agreed to do so and posed in Philadelphia late in January. Before he had even completed the original painting (which is owned by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts), Peale was asked to make replicas of it. This nine-by-six-foot painting based on the original 1779 version belongs to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Eight full-length versions of the painting are known to survive, though the backgrounds vary: in some cases, the battlefields at Trenton or Yorktown are portrayed rather than the one at Princeton.