George Washington and William Lee

John Trumbull American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 753

In this portrait, Washington stands on a bluff above the Hudson River with William Lee, his enslaved valet, groom, and military aide, on horseback. Trumbull had served on Washington’s staff as an aide-de-camp early in the Revolutionary War. He painted this portrait from memory years later, when he was studying in London. It was the first authoritative depiction of Washington available in Europe, and was soon copied widely. The painting is also one of the best-known representations of Lee, depicted in a turban based on a European "orientalist" convention associated with Black figures. An accurate visual portrait of Lee, who Washington freed and granted an annuity in his will, is unknown.

George Washington and William Lee, John Trumbull (American, Lebanon, Connecticut 1756–1843 New York), Oil on canvas, American

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