Hunter Museum of American Art acquires portrait of George Washington

Hunter Museum of American Art has acquired a portrait of George Washington. The acquisition was unveiled during the Museum’s 60th Anniversary Celebration.

Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860), “Portrait of George Washington,” undated, oil on canvas, Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Gift In Loving Memory and Honor of S. K. ‘Skeeter’ Johnston, III and partial Museum Purchase, HMAA.2012.15

The portrait was painted by Rembrandt Peale. He was a member of the extraordinary Peale family in late 18th and early 19th century America. The family included many artists, and Rembrandt’s father, Charles Willson Peale, was a Renaissance man being not only an artist, but a scientist, aide to George Washington during the Revolutionary War and founder of America’s first museum.

Rembrandt Peale specialized in portraits, particularly in portraits of George Washington. At age 17, Rembrandt painted his first portrait from life of Washington during his second term. In an effort to create the definitive portrait of the first president, it is estimated that Rembrandt did 70 portraits of Washington, which were highly acclaimed during his lifetime.

“The George Washington portrait has a beautiful gilt frame which enhances the work,” said Hunter Museum Chief Curator Ellen Simak. “It takes pride of place in Gallery 2 in the mansion, and we have done some extra interpretation tied to the portrait via work borrowed from the Houston Museum.”

The portrait has been on loan to the museum for several years. Then, through a combination of a generous gift and museum acquisition funds it was acquired for the permanent collection.

The Hunter Museum of American Art is located at 10 Bluff View in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Museum is open every day until 5 p.m., Thursdays until 8 p.m. For more information the public may call the Museum at (423) 267-0968, or visit on the Web at www.huntermuseum.org

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