Rembrandt Peale (1778—1860)

by Rembrandt Peale (1778—1860)

Oil on canvas; 75.6 x 64.5 x 3.2cm (29 3/4 x 25 3/8 x 1 1/4"). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

by Rembrandt Peale (1778—1860)

 

by Rembrandt Peale (1778—1860)

Oil on canvas. 73.02 x 60.01 cm (28 3/4 x 23 5/8 in). Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

by Rembrandt Peale (1778—1860)

Oil on canvas; 71.5 inches x 53.25 inches (181.6 cm x 135.3 cm). U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

by Rembrandt Peale (1778—1860)

Oil on canvas; 137 1/2 x 120 1/2 in. (3.5 x 3 m). Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

by Rembrandt Peale (1778—1860)

 

by Rembrandt Peale (1778—1860)

Oil on paper laid down on board; 30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm). Private collection.

by Rembrandt Peale (1778—1860)

Oil on canvas; 89.5 x 71.9cm (35 1/4 x 28 5/16"). National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian), Washington, DC.

by Rembrandt Peale (1778—1860)

Oil on canvas; 89.5 x 71.8cm (35 1/4 x 28 1/4"). National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian), Washington, DC.

by Rembrandt Peale (1778—1860)

Pen and black ink with ink wash, heightened with white opaque watercolor over traces of graphite on tan wove paper; 11 15/16 x 10 13/16 inches (

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)