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The Washington Family

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Title: The Washington Family  
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Subject: Samuel Osgood House (New York City), Christopher Sheels, Edward Savage (artist), Visual art of the United States, Nelson (horse)
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The Washington Family

Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art
The Washington Family by Edward Savage (1789-96).

The Washington Family by Martha Washington, two of her grandchildren, and an enslaved servant. Based on life studies made early in Washington's presidency, Savage began the work in New York City, 1789–90, and completed it several years later in Philadelphia, 1795-96.[1] The enormous painting (7 ft. x 9 ft. 4 in. / 213 cm. x 284 cm.) is now at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.[2]

The image was a famous one in the 19th century. Prints were mass-produced by Savage beginning in 1798, and by John Sartain in 1840.[3]

The setting for the painting is idealized, with the Eleanor Parke Custis, Martha Washington, and an enslaved servant (probably Christopher Sheels). With a plan of the future city of Washington, D.C. in front of her, Martha Washington is, according to Savage's catalogue, "pointing with her fan to the grand avenue", which is now the National Mall.[2][4][5][6]


  1. ^ Savage lived in London, 1791-94, and did not resume work on the painting until after his return to the United States.
  2. ^ a b The Washington Family at National Gallery of Art
  3. ^ , December 30, 1892The New York Times
  4. ^ "Map 1: The L'Enfant Plan for Washington".  
  5. ^ Hanlon, Mary. "The Mall: The Grand Avenue, The Government, and The People". University of Virginia. Retrieved 2011-06-08. 
  6. ^ New York City was the capital of the United States, 1789-90. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania served as temporary national capital, 1790-1800, while Washington, DC was under construction.
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