National Geographic : 1951 Feb
O National Geographic Society 181 Lent by Brooklyn Aluseum CHARLES WILLSON PEALE (1741-1827) * George Washington With this portrait the National Geographic Society introduces 53 of a series of paintings exhibited by the Corcoran Gallery of Art to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Washington, D. C., as the National Capital. These works, some of them primitive folk art never before shown in public, depict the American story from colonial times to the 20th century. Not a superlative artist but a great and fantastic American was Charles W\illson Peale, portraitist, inventor, naturalist, soldier, and hero of the Philadelphia yellow-fever epidemic. In versatility and patriotic devotion lie rivaled his illustrious model (above), but debts and visionary schemes plagued most of his life. Peale abhorred violence, yet lie enlisted in the Revolutionary militia as a private. Rising to captain, lie devoted himself to feeding and contorting his weary men. At W\ashington's side he endured Valley Forge's cold, misery, and starvation, and there he portrayed some 40 officers. As a fellow veteran remarked, Peale "fit and painted and painted and lit.' Peale painted \Vashington from life 14 times, a record matched by no other artist. Called to Mount Vernon in 1772, lie executed the first \Vashington portrait, showing him as a Virginia colonel. Our painting, done in 1776 for John I lancock, portrays \Vashington for the first time as an American; he wears the Commander in Chiefs blue ribbon.