Washington and his family


G. [sic] Schussele. “Washington And His Family.” Philadelphia: Bradley & Co., 1884. 17 3/4 x 24 3/4. Mezzotint by William Sartain. Chine appliqué labeled “Proof.” Small repaired tear in lower margin.


A large steel mezzotint engraving by William Sartain of George Washington and his family. The ‘Father of the Country’ sits in uniform surrounded by his family and symbols of American life. On a table, center, lies a copy of the official plan of the City of Washington. To the right the General has laid aside his sword, and to the left is an olive plant representing peace. Martha sits across the table from Washington and her two grandchildren flank their step-grandfather. Coming in the door is Washington’s servant, “Old Christopher.” William Sartain, member of the Sartain family of engravers, was one of the best American mezzotinters of the nineteenth century and this print superbly demonstrates his skill. The handsome figures with calm demeanors, rich clothing and furniture, and many symbols graphically illustrate the ideals of American life in the nineteenth century. This image was based on a painting by noted Philadelphia artist Christian Schussele, who was a friend of Sartain. Interestingly, for authenticity, Schussele said he copied Washington’s face from the portrait by Gilbert Stuart and Washington’s body from a portrait by Trumbull, each of which he considered to be the best of its subject.