Washington at Dorchester Heights
Oil on canvas
Second half of the nineteenth century
34” x 41” overall
After the monumental (107” x 71”) 1806 portrait by Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) commissioned for the town of Boston by Samuel Parkman, 1806; deposited by the City of Boston, 1876 in the Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
General George Washington stands beside his horse on a high ridge, with the distant city of Boston visible in the background. The painting commemorates an American victory in the Revolutionary War; by occupying Dorchester Heights, the Colonist’s troops threatened Boston Harbor with artillery fire and forced the British army to evacuate the city.
Stuart is said to have completed the original in only ten days. He “borrowed” the from his famous “Athenaeum” portrait and posed Washington beside a horse that the artist obtained from a Rubens according to Stuart’s biographer Richard McLanathan. Multiple copies of this appealing work were made during the nineteenth century, several by Stuart’s daughter Jane. As was the custom at the time, painters sold copies of their popular works made by assistants and patrons commissioned copies by other artists of well regarded works. Modern notions of copyright or ownership of an image developed only later.
Canvas has been cleaned lightly and lined.