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Washington in MFA Art of Americas Wing

The MFA’s new wing is devoted to the art of North, South and Central America.
This Boston museum is well known for its holdings of paintings, silver, and furniture from Colonial New England. I will discuss paintings devoted to George Washington (General and President).

Boston is home to Paul Revere, the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolutionary War. Best known as an American patriot, Paul Revere was also a silversmith.
His "Sons of Liberty" bowl (1768) can be viewed in the Revolutionary Boston gallery.

During the American Revolutionary War, General George Washington was successful in the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776. Crossing the icy Delaware River (north of Trenton, NJ) and after a brief battle during a snow storm, his army defeated and captured the Hessian soldiers, with little loss to American lives. This was a significant battle in the Revolutionary War in that it raised the morale of soldiers and helped with future recruitment.

In the Kristin and Roger Servison Gallery (The New Nation 1800-1830) on Level 1 of the new Art of the Americas Wing, Thomas Sully’s "The Passage of the Delaware 1819" is a powerful painting, not only because of its size (146" X 207"), but in its portrayal of calm amongst chaos. Washington’s demeanor is composed and confident, despite the battle depicted behind him.

Originally commissioned in 1817 by the State of North Carolina for the Senate Hall, it was decidedly too big for their building spaces; Sully was perhaps given incorrect dimensions. It was subsequently sold to Boston frame maker, John Doggett who constructed its frame and charged the public a fee to view the Sully painting.

It was then sold to the Old Boston Museum (not affiliated with the present MFA).
In 1903, the painting was gifted to the present Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

In the same gallery is a portrait of George Washington (1796) by artist Gilbert Stuart (born in Rhode Island). This painting, also known as "The Athenaeum" would become a model for over fifty other paintings and its image can be found on the U.S. $1.00 bill.
As an aside, Martha Washington’s portrait by Gilbert Stuart can be seen close by.

In the same gallery is Gilbert Stuart’s "Washington at Dorchester Heights" (1806). This was the battle that liberated Boston. The British troops were allowed to leave Boston unscathed, as long as they didn’t burn the city.

In Massachusetts, March 17th is remembered as Evacuation Day. It was on that day that Washington and his troops had taken and fortified Dorchester Heights in 1776.

George Washington was the first President of the United States (1789-1797). His birthday is February 22nd and is celebrated in some states as Presidents' Day along with Abraham Lincoln whose birthday is February 12th.

I did receive free admission to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston as I was given a press pass.

You can own an art print of Thomas Sully's "Passage of the Delaware 1819," available here from Allposters.com.
The Passage of the Delaware, c.1819

The Passage of the Delaware, c.1819

Sully, Thomas

Buy This Allposters.com

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The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
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This content was written by Camille Gizzarelli. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Camille Gizzarelli for details.


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