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This 1782 engraving of General George Washington at his field headquarters includes a representation of an enslaved servant of African descent holding the General’s horse. Washington had several enslaved people with him in the field. Here, the artist chose to show the man in an “exotic” outfit to emphasize his African ancestry. The man, standing with Washington, may represent his enslaved personal servant of two decades, William Lee. The print combines elements from a few wartime paintings of General Washington, notably a copy of Charles Willson Peale’s 1776 portrait of the General that the Marquis de Lafayette owned and brought to France in 1779.

This image stirred French audiences with its representation of Washington as an American Cincinnatus, the Roman general who was given dictatorial powers before relinquishing them to return home to his farm. In his hands, Washington holds two documents of importance for French audiences, the Treaty of Alliance, and the Declaration of Independence.

Artwork Details

  • Le Général Washington
    Engraved by Noël Le Mire, after Jean-Baptiste Le Paon and Charles Willson Peale
    France
    1782
    Engraving on paper
    Museum of the American Revolution, 2014.05.0001

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