Portraits of a President: A Video Feature

Two paintings in the American art collection at Princeton University capture the spirit of the American Revolution and the prominence of George Washington, who led the Continental Army before becoming the first president of the United States. Both portraits were painted by one of the most renowned early American artists, Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827).

In a new video by Nick Barberio from the Office of Communications, Karl Kusserow, John Wilmerding Curator of American Art at the Princeton University Art Museum, explains the unique history of this pair of portraits. 

Currently on view in the Princeton University Art Museum, the 1784 portrait George Washington at the Battle of Princeton shows the famous battle in progress. The other painting, displayed nearby in Nassau Hall and created between 1779 and 1782, is titled George Washington after the Battle of Princeton and shows Washington following the American victory over the British in that crucial encounter, which took place on January 3, 1777.


Charles Willson Peale, George Washington at the Battle of Princeton, 1783–84. Oil on canvas. Princeton University, commissioned by the Trustees. Photo: Bruce M. White. PP222  Charles Willson Peale, George Washington (1732-1799) after the Battle of Princeton, Jan. 3, 1777, 1779–82. Oil on canvas. Princeton University, bequest of Charles A. Munn, Class of 1881. Photo: Bruce M. White. PP218