Washington at Verplanck's Point

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Washington at Verplanck's Point
American General George Washington stands in front of a white horse, with the North or Hudson River in the background.
ArtistJohn Trumbull
Mediumoil on canvas
Dimensions76.5 cm × 51.1 cm (30 1/8 in × 20 1/8 in)
LocationWinterthur Museum, Garden and Library, Winterthur, Delaware

Washington at Verplanck's Point is a full-length portrait in oil painted in 1790 by the American artist John Trumbull of General George Washington at Verplanck's Point on the North River in New York during the American Revolutionary War.[1][2] The background depicts the September 14, 1782 review of Rochambeau's French troops. The painting was a gift from Trumbull to the president's wife, Martha Washington, and is now owned by the Winterthur Museum. Trumbull next received a commission from the City of New York and painted a much larger version with a new background, Evacuation Day, November 25, 1783, the return of Washington and the departure of British forces. This second version is on display in the Governor's Room of New York City Hall.


General George Washington is in full military uniform, a blue coat over buff waistcoat and pants. He is standing in front of his white horse, Blueskin, leaning on the saddle and holding the reins. The background shows the encampment of the Continental Army at Verplanck's Point on the North River. It depicts the September 14, 1782 review of the French troops under General Rochambeau on their return from Virginia after the victory at Yorktown on October 19, 1781. Washington had ordered this review "out of respect and gratitude for France".[3] Stony Point and the Hudson Highlands are also visible in the distance.[4][5]


The painting was a gift to Martha Washington by Trumbull. After her death, the portrait was bequeathed to her granddaughter, Elizabeth Parke Custis Law. It remained in the family until sold to Henry Francis du Pont, who then donated it to his museum in 1964.[2] In 1982, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association purchased a modern copy of the painting by Adrian Lamb for display at Mount Vernon.[6]

New York City version[edit]

American General George Washington stands in front of a white horse, with Bowling Green and the Battery in the background, on Evacuation Day, November 25, 1783
George Washington by John Trumbull, 1790, New York City Hall

George Washington, also known as Washington and the Departure of the British Garrison from New York City, is a much larger (108 inches (270 cm) x 72 inches (180 cm)), full-length portrait in oil also painted in 1790 by Trumbull of Washington, but the background is now set on Evacuation Day, November 25, 1783, when Washington returned to the city as British forces left.[7] In July, 1790, Trumbull had received a commission from the corporation for the City of New York, led by Mayor Richard Varick, to paint the president's portrait.[8][9] This painting is located in the historic Governor's Room of New York City Hall.[10][11]

Trumbull in a letter to his mentor, the painter Benjamin West, on August 30, 1790 wrote:

I have several small portraits of the President ... one in particular which I have done for Mrs. Washington a full length about 20 Inches hight ... is thought very like—& I have Been tempted to disobey one of your injunctions & to attempt a large Portrait of him for this City which I am now finishing—the figure is near seven feet high compos'd with a Horse, & the back ground the evacuation of this Place by the British at the Peace:—the Harbour & Fleet with a Part of the fortifications & Ruins of the Town:—How I have succeeded I hardly dare judge:—the World have approved the resemblance, it is to Hang in the most elegant Room in America & in a very perfect light.

In 1899, Samuel Arlent Edwards engraved a version entitled Washington and noted as "From the painting by J. Trumbull in the City Hall, New York".[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Martha Washington's grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, wrote in his Recollections and private memoirs of Washington that:

The figure of Washington, as delineated by Colonel Trumbull, is the most perfect extant. So is the costume, the uniform of the staff in the war for Independence, being the ancient whig colors, blue and buff–a very splendid performance throughout ...[14]


In 1889, for the centennial celebration of the inauguration of Washington as the first President of the United States, the original portrait, then owned by Edmund Law Rogers, grandson of Elizabeth Parke Custis Law, and the second, the city hall version, were on display together at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York City.[15]

In 1982, a silver coin with a 30 dollar value was issued for Antigua & Barbuda commemorating the 250th anniversary of Washington's birth with this image of him at Verplanck's Point on the reverse side.[16]

In 2017, Philip Mead, chief historian at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, and museum curators found that a watercolor panorama by Pierre Charles L'Enfant was of this 1782 encampment at Verplanck's Point and included Washington's canvas marquee tent. R. Scott Stephenson, director of curatorial affairs at the museum, has stated that although the tent is not seen in Trumbull's painting, "because of this new watercolor and the research we've done, we can tell it shows Washington standing right in front of the tent."[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Trumbull, John. "Washington at Verplanck's Point". Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.
  2. ^ a b Richardson, Edgar P. (1967). "A Penetrating Characterization of Washington by John Trumbull". Winterthur Portfolio. Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum. 3: 1–2. JSTOR 1180498. Fig.1 John Trumbull Washington at Verplanck's Point
  3. ^ Washington, George (1931). "Honors to Rochambeau". In Fitzpatrick, John C. The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799. 25. United States George Washington Bicentennial Commission. pp. 157–8.
  4. ^ Richardson (1967), p. 21.
  5. ^ "Painting by Washington's Aide de Camp Now on View at Mount Vernon". Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. December 9, 2014.
  6. ^ "Washington at Verplanck's Point, New York, 1782, Reviewing the French Troops after the Victory at Yorktown". Mount Vernon Ladies' Association.
  7. ^ Richardson (1967), p. 5, "Fig. 5 Trumbull, Washington and the Departure of the British Garrison from New York City "
  8. ^ Lear, Tobias (July 19, 1790). "Tobias Lear to Richard Varick, 19 July 1790". Founders Online, National Archives.
  9. ^ Trumbull, John (1841). Autobiography, Reminiscences and Letters of John Trumbull, from 1756 to 1841. New York: Wiley and Putnam. p. 164.
  10. ^ "City Hall Portrait Collection". City of New York. George Washington (1790) by John Trumbull, which was completed before City Hall was built
  11. ^ Trumbull, John. "George Washington". City of New York.
  12. ^ Sizer, Theodore (October 1951). "A Note on Trumbull's Eyesight, A Letter to Benjamin West". The Yale University Library Gazette. 26 (2): 91–93. JSTOR 40857535.
  13. ^ Edwards, Samuel Arlent. "Washington". Digital Collections: New York Public Library.
  14. ^ Custis, George Washington Parke (1860). Recollections and private memoirs of Washington. New York: Derby & Jackson. p. 520.
  15. ^ Catalogue of the Loan Exhibition of Historical Portraits and Relics, Metropolitan Opera House, New York City, April 17th to May 8th, 1889. New York: Committee on Centennial Celebration of the Inauguration of Washington. 1889. pp. 17–18.
  16. ^ "30 Dollars – Elizabeth II Verplanck's Point 1790". Numista.
  17. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (November 15, 2017). "Washington's Tent: A Detective Story. How the Museum of the American Revolution found the only known depiction of George Washington's traveling headquarters during the Revolutionary War". The New York Times.

External links[edit]