Portraits of Artists

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Artists  |  British  |  Colonials  |  Enslaved People  |  French  |  Germans  |  Natives  |  Spanish  |  Others

  • Mather BrownAmerican-born painter, active in England (1761—1831)
  • John Singleton CopleyAmerican painter, principally active in London after 1774 (1738—1815)
  • Ralph EarlAmerican painter, principally of portraits (1751—1801)
  • Jean-Antoine HoudonFrench sculptor who sometimes created his works from life-masks (1741—1828)
  • Charles Willson PealeAmerican painter, soldier; created first American museum (1741—1827)
  • Rembrandt PealeAmerican painter, son of Charles Willson Peale (1778—1860)
  • William RushAmerican sculptor (1756—1833)
  • Gilbert StuartAmerican painter of quintessential portraits, including George Washington (1755—1828)
  • Thomas SullyBritish-born painter, mainly of portraits (1783—1872)
  • John TrumbullAmerican artist, soldier at the Battle of Trenton (1756—1843)
  • John VanderlynAmerican artist, protégé of Aaron Burr (1775—1852)
  • Benjamin WestAmerican-born painter who moved to England in 1763 (1738—1820)

As students of Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau are always reminding us, the age of reason was really an age of sentiment. In this too, Washington was a man of his age. When he established the first general decoration in the American Army, the Purple Heart, it was not (as it became in the twentieth century) an award available to all soldiers wounded in the line of duty. Only privates and noncomissioned officers could win the original Badge of Military Merit, a cloth-shaped heart sewn over the man’s actual heart, which allowed him to pass all guards and sentinels which officers are permitted to do. The symbol was not of heart’s blood shed, but of virtue proceeding from the heart. Limiting the award to nonofficers was meant to indicate that great virtue can be shown regardless of rank — that in Washington’s words, the road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is thus open to all.

Garry Wills
Cincinnatus: George Washington & the Enlightenment (1984)