(n/a) Edward Savage (American, 1761-1817) George Washington (1732-1799), President of the United States of America (1789-1797), wearing blue uniform with cream facings and gold epaulettes, cream waistcoat and frilled white chemise, the badge of the Society of Cincinnati pinned to his coat, his powdered wig worn en queue with a black ribbon
Lot 300* Y
(n/a) Edward Savage
(American, 1761-1817)
George Washington (1732-1799), President of the United States of America (1789-1797), wearing blue uniform with cream facings and gold epaulettes, cream waistcoat and frilled white chemise, the badge of the Society of Cincinnati pinned to his coat, his powdered wig worn en queue with a black ribbon
Sold for £15,600 (US$ 24,410) inc. premium

Lot Details
(n/a) Edward Savage (American, 1761-1817)
George Washington (1732-1799), President of the United States of America (1789-1797), wearing blue uniform with cream facings and gold epaulettes, cream waistcoat and frilled white chemise, the badge of the Society of Cincinnati pinned to his coat, his powdered wig worn en queue with a black ribbon.
Inscribed on the reverse 1082. B/ AZ/ -/ 9.9.0/ Genl Washington/ 1782, turned wood frame.
Oval, 85mm (3 3/8in) high
Provenance: Sotheby's, 5 July 1976, lot 38

Footnotes

  • The present lot is a period version of Edward Savage's oil portrait of 1789-1790 in the Harvard University Portrait Collection, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Savage, a self-taught artist Edward Savage painted Washington on his visit to Harvard College in October 1789. Joseph Willard, president of the college, wrote a letter of introduction to Washington after he returned to New York. "When you were in the Philosophy Chamber of the University in this place, you may perhaps remember, that I expressed my wishes, that your Portrait might, some time or other, adorn that Room. Since that, Mr Savage, the Bearer of this . . . has called on me, and of his own accord, has politely and generously offered to take your Portrait for the University, if you will be so kind as to sit. As it would be exceedingly grateful to all the Governors of this literary Society that the Portrait of the Man we so highly love, esteem and revere, should be the property of, and be placed within Harvard College, permit me, Sir, to request the favor of your sitting for the purpose." Josiah Quincy, later president of Harvard, "always declared that the portrait by Savage . . . was the best likeness he had ever seen of Washington."

    Two further period miniatures based on Savage's portrait are in The Taft Museum, Cincinnati - this example bears a signature and date E. Savage pinxt 1794 (inv.1931.490); and The Metropolitan Museum, New York. Another version was sold Sotheby's, 10 December 1923, lot 329. Savage's portrait of Washington was a popular image and was reproduced as a print by the artist himself when he moved to England in 1801, an act that proved very lucrative.


    Born into a Virginia planter family, until the outbreak of the American Revolution, Washington managed his lands around Mount Vernon and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses. But like his fellow planters, Washington felt himself exploited by British merchants and hampered by British regulations. When the Second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia in May 1775, Washington, was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. On July 3, 1775, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, he took command of his ill-trained troops and embarked upon a war that was to last six years.

    He became a prime mover in the steps leading to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. When the new Constitution was ratified, the Electoral College unanimously elected Washington President. In the present lot he is depicted wearing the Badge of the Society of Cincinatti to which he was elected in 1782. He was re-elected in 1784 when the Society held its first conference, but disagreements over the laws of the Society led him to resign later the same year.

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