Washington as Statesman at the Constitutional Convention (Primary Title)

Junius Brutus Stearns, American, 1810 - 1885 (Artist)

oil on canvas
United States
Unframed: 37 1/2 × 54 in. (95.25 × 137.16 cm)
Framed: 46 × 63 3/16 × 3 1/2 in. (116.84 × 160.5 × 8.89 cm)
Not on view
The years surrounding the fiftieth anniversary in 1849 of Washington’s death saw renewed interest in the first American president. A flurry of public and private tributes included an ambitious series of large oil paintings by Junius Stearns, most of them popularized through lithographic prints. The five canvases—four of which are now in VMFA’s collection—highlight aspects of Washington’s life. This final work painted by Stearns represents Washington’s role as president of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. The normally reserved Washington urges passage of a new federal constitution, a draft of which he holds in his hands. In 1856, as in 1787, Americans vociferously debated the merits of a strong centralized government versus the authority of each state. In the 1850s many Americans understood Washington as a truly national figure whose legacy could unite the nation amid increasing conflict between northern and southern states.
signed at lower right: "STEARNS"
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch
A Portrait of George Washington: the Man, the Soldier and the President, Taubman Museum of Art, February 6 – July 31, 2016

"Picturing History: American Painting 1770-1930", IBM Gallery, NY, September 28 - November 27, 1993; The Corcoran Gallery, Washington DC, January 29 - April 2, 1994; Dallas Museum of Art, May 1 - July 10, 1994; Center for Fine Arts, Miami, FL, August 8 - November 13, 1994.

US House of Representatives, Cannon Building, Rotunda Area, and U.S. Supreme Court BUilding, Washington, D.C. Special showing in honor of the 200th Anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, September 9 - October 31, 1987.

Pennsylvania Academy, April 22 - December 31, 1976

Mary Washington College, February 1956

Roanoke Fine Arts Center, January 23 - February 23, 1953

Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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