Item No: ELK0017831
Title: The True Portraiture of His Excellency George Washington Esqr. in the Roman Dress, as Ordered by Congress for the Monument to Be Erected in Philadelphia, to Perpetuate to Posterity the Man Who Commanded the American Forces Through the Late Glorious...
Additional Title: George Washington in Armor
Rare Book Department
An engraving by John Norman portraying George Washington in 16th century Roman armor. The engraving was based on a portrait that was inspired by the Continental Congress decision at the end of the Revolutionary War to erect an equestrian statue of Washington in Roman Dress in honor of his skill as a military leader. Roman dress was then a symbol of military strength.
It is generally believed that Norman’s engraving of Washington is copied from three different sources: (1) Washington’s armor is directly copied from John Guilliam’s Display of Heraldry first published in 1611, (2) Washington’s figure, pose and the background battle was copied from an illustration by Sir William de La More which he found in an expanded issue of John Guilliam’s Display of Heraldry owned by his friend John Coles Sr., (3) Washington’s face is copied from Joseph Hiller’s mezzotint of George Washington, modeled after Charles Willson Peales’s well-known portrait of Washington.
John Norman, originally from London, arrived in Philadelphia in 1774. He advertised himself as an engraver of maps, architectural illustrations, portraits, landscapes, frontispieces. He also ornamented watch cases, printed copperplates, gave drawing lessons and sold prints and frames. As an engraver he often resorted to copying the drawings or paintings of more well established artists and established himself as one of the more important purveyors of the Washington image during the Revolutionary period.
Reaves, Wendy Wick. 1982. George Washington, an American icon: the eighteenth-century graphic portraits. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. PP.-90-91.
Creation Year (Single Year or Range Begin):
Baker, William Spohn. 1880. The engraved portraits of Washington with notices of the originals and brief biographical sketches of the painters. Philadelphia: Lindsay & Baker. P.199.
Nicole , Simpson. New York Public Library, "Selections from the C. W. McAlpin Collection Section IV Fictitious Portraits of Washington." Last modified July 24, 2013. Accessed July 24, 2013. http://web-static.nypl.org/exhibitions/revolution/selection4.html.
Norman, John, 1748?-1817 - Engraver