The Painter's Chair
George Washington and the Making of American Art
By Hugh Howard
(Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Hardcover, 9781596912441, 297pp.)
Publication Date: February 3, 2009
List Price: $30.00*
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An eloquent new look at the beginnings of the American republic—through the portraits of its first icon, George Washington, and the painters who defined him.“I am so hackneyed to the touches of the painters pencil, that I am now altogether at their beck…no dray moves more readily to the Thill, than I do to the Painters Chair.”—George Washington, May 16, 1785 When George Washington was born, the New World had virtually no artists. Over the course of his life and career, a cultural transformation would occur. Virtually everyone regarded Washington as America’s indispensable man, and the early painters and sculptors were no exception. Hugh Howard brings to life the founding fathers of American painting, and the elusive Washington himself, through the history of their portraits. We meet Charles Willson Peale, the comrade-in-arms; John Trumbull, the aristocrat; Benjamin West, the mentor; and Gilbert Stuart, the brilliant wastrel and most gifted painter of his day. Howard’s narrative traces Washington’s interaction with these and other artists, while offering a fresh and intimate portrait of the first president. The Painter’s Chair is an engaging narrative of how America’s first painters toiled to create an art worthy of the new republic, and of the hero whom they turned into an icon.