Hunter Museum of American Art acquires portrait of George Washington

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Sept. 7, 2012) – The Hunter Museum of American Art recently added a portrait of George Washington to its permanent collection. The acquisition was unveiled last night during the Museum’s 60th Anniversary Celebration.

“It is so appropriate for this great American art museum to celebrate its 60th anniversary by adding an image of George Washington to our permanent collection,” said Hunter Museum Executive Director, Daniel E. Stetson.

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.

Credit line for the image of George Washington: 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

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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 us on the Web at www.huntermuseum.org.