This rare lithograph depicts a bust-length figure of George Washington set in an illusionistic stone oval window atop a stone still engraved with the legend “PATRIÆ PATER” (Father of His Country). Decorated with a garland of oak leaves, the window is surmounted by the “Phydian head of Jupiter” on the keystone. The oak was sacred to Jupiter, and it also had a long Christian tradition as a symbol of virtue and endurance in the face of adversity.
The image was printed in the spring of 1827 by the Boston lithography firm of William and John Pendleton, and was awarded a silver medal, the highest award, at the fall exhibition at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia that same year. The lithograph is unique in that the artist participated directly in the creation of the image and approved all impressions. It was drawn by Rembrandt Peale and is a copy of his magnificent 1823 oil on canvas painting of George Washington that hangs above the dais in the Old Senate Chamber in the Capitol. Peale painted numerous copies of this portrait in oil, and these along with the prints ensured widespread recognition of the image. Today, only a handful of other institutions own copies of the lithograph.