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Title:print: Lady Washington
Date Made:circa 1820
Materials:paper, ink, wood, glass
Place Made:United States
Measurements:Sheet: 9 11/16 x 7 3/8 in; 24.6 x 18.7 cm; Plate: 9 5/16 x 6 11/16 in; 23.7 x 17 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2000.9
Credit Line:Gift of Sumpter T. Priddy III
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Aquatint of Martha Washington sitting in a chair holding a fan, titled "LADY WASHINGTON" under the image. The eldest daughter of Virginia planter John Dandridge (1700–1756) and Frances Jones (1710-1785), Martha Dandridge Washington (1731-1802) married a prosperous planter, Daniel Parke Custis, in 1749 at age 18. Custis died in 1757, leaving Martha a wealthy young widow with two small children. In 1759, Martha married George Washington (1732-1799) who became the first president of the United States in 1789. Martha is now seen as the first First Lady of the United States although that title was not coined until after her death; she was then simply known as "Lady Washington." After George Washington's death in 1799, the mania for prints and souvenirs emblazoned with Washington's likeness intensified. The anonymous artist responsible for this print based his image of Martha Washington on a copper plate engraving of the 1794 group oil portrait "The Washington Family" by artist and engraver, Edward Savage (1761-1817), which Savage published as a print in 1798. However, this artist lampooned Washington's apotheosis as father of the new nation by using Savage's image of George Washington's face under the cap on Martha's head, and depicting Martha seated in an armchair, facing right with her legs crossed under her dress, which is George Washington's pose in the Savage print. The result? George/Martha Washington as the father/mother of the country, all in one figure. Perhaps as a nod to voters who elected Andrew Jackson to the presidency on a democratic, states' rights platform in 1828, the artist may have meant this image obliquely to snub old-style federalists who philosophically aligned themselves with Washington in their support of a strong national government.


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