George Washington, Patriae Pater
One of a series of at least 79 portraits of Washington painted by Rembrandt Peale, only one of them from life. In this "porthole" style painting Washington is surrounded with classical motifs. The oak wreath or "corona civica," awarded to Roman citizens for saving the life of a fellow citizen in battle, along with the Latin legend "Patriae Pater" or "Father of his Country" probably evoke classical republican ideals rather than the Emperor Augustus, who was given the title Augustus and awarded the civic crown in 27 BCE and in 2 BCE received the title "Pater Patriae." The mask of Jupiter, king of the Roman gods, in the keystone affirms not only Washington's supremacy, but also classical ideals of leadership. Philadelphians may have remembered the Walnut Street Theatre's display on December 23, 1799, ten days after Washington's death, which featured "an affecting scene of a tomb, in the center of which was a portrait of the sage and hero, encircled by oak leaves."
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Oil on canvas
Peale, Rembrandt (American painter, 1778-1860), “George Washington, Patriae Pater,” Classicizing Philadelphia, accessed December 19, 2018, http://classicizingphiladelphia.org/items/show/408.