George and Martha

January 28–June 1, 2015
Second floor

George Washington’s image is still easily recognizable more than 200 years after his death. The representational decisions made by the artists tasked with capturing the legacy of the first president, and by extension the office he held, were responsible for the new democracy’s stability. Whether representing Washington as a soldier, a statesman, or even a demigod, these choices would show the world what leadership in his new country looked like. The Washingtons’ personal virtue and prestige represented that of the nation and artists intended that their portraits reflect the couple’s simplicity, sincerity, and fortitude.

America’s first great generation of artists each proclaimed their own works the most faithful representations of the leader. Future generations have found importance in these early portrayals of the first family, repeatedly turning to images of Washington in times of uncertainty, whether the 20th-century rise of fascism or everyday turmoil. This exhibition explores the precedent set by Washington’s representation and its legacy as the country’s first symbol of hope.

Explore George and Martha online in the Carter's Google Arts & Culture exhibition.

Installation Photos

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