CATALOG. This catalog records the
images of George Washington that were published before his death
on 14 December 1799. Each print is assigned a unique catalog
number. Where available, an illustration of the print is included,
together with identification of the source upon which its image
of Washington is based.
remains incomplete, because not all Washington engravings
have been documented and some offer no clear evidence of their date.
Additions and corrections from readers are welcomed, as well as
images not yet illustrated.
THE CELEBRITY. For 25 years--more
than half his adult life--George Washington was the most celebrated
figure in the world. The fame created a huge demand for pictures
of him. Artists and engravers responded by creating dozens
of images of the man.
Some of the
images are fictional inventions, but most of them are based directly
or indirectly on one of the oil paintings, watercolors or drawings
which Washington posed for during his life.
THE SITTER. Washington became a
willing sitter for artists, a fact he commented on with amusement
(in a letter to Francis Hopkinson, 16 May 1785):
am so hackneyed to the touches of the Painter's pencil, that I am
now altogether at their beck, and sit like Patience on a monument,
whilst they are delineating the lines of my face. It is a
proof among many others, of what habit and custom can effect.
At first I was as impatient at the request, and as restive under
the operation, as a colt is of the saddle. The next time I
submitted very reluctantly, but with less flouncing; now, no dray
moves more readily to the Thill [hitching shaft], than I do to the Painter's Chair."
ultimately sat for more than two dozen artists, several of them
more than once. The resulting likenesses were then often used
by the artists to create multiple portraits, sometimes in variations
on the original pose. Those portraits were in turn copied
by other artists and by many printmakers.