George Washington (Patriæ Pater)
by Rembrandt Peale
Oil on canvas, 1824
U.S. Senate Collection
In commemoration of the first Inauguration held on April 30, 1789, Rembrandt Peale's portrait of the nation's first President, George Washington, was displayed at the Inaugural Luncheon.
Peale originally painted Washington from life in the fall of 1795, when he accompanied his father, Charles Willson Peale, to Mount Vernon. However, the younger Peale was not satisfied with the resulting portrait and set out to create one that would show Washington's "mild, thoughtful & dignified, yet firm and energetic countenance." In 1823, after numerous attempts, Rembrandt Peale made one final effort. Peale studied portraits of Washington by other artists and painted a powerful composition, which he hoped would become the standard image of the president. Confining himself in his studio for three months, he created what has become known as the "porthole" portrait, so named for his placement of Washington in a stonework porthole, surrounded by a wreath of oak leaves.
The United States Senate, by resolution on July 2, 1832, authorized the purchase of Peale's portrait of Washington for the Senate Chamber. The portrait can be found in its original location in the Old Senate Chamber.