General Washington

Washington in 1772

Washington in 1772, ca. 1830.

Washington’s accomplished military career was a popular subject for many artists and printmakers in the late 1700s and 1800s. He was depicted in uniform in the different stages of his military life—as a major and colonel in the Virginia militia during the French and Indian War (1754-1763) and as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army—a role he filled from 1775-1783.

American artist Charles Wilson Peale (1741-1827) painted several life portraits of Washington that commemorated his military accomplishments. These works included the 1772 portrait titled George Washington in the Uniform of a Colonel in the Virginia militia, commissioned by Martha Washington, and the 1779 portrait George Washington at the Battle of Princeton, commissioned by the Supreme Executive Council for the State House in Pennsylvania to commemorate the victories of Trenton and Princeton. These paintings served as popular models for depicting George Washington as a military officer.