George Washington at the Battle of Princeton Artist: Charles Willson Peale (American, 1741–1827)


American Paintings and Sculpture

On view, 2nd floor, American Art before 1900

In 1779 Charles Willson Peale painted an official portrait of General George Washington (1732–1799, ll.d. 1781) to commemorate the victories of the Continental army at Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey. In response to the great popularity of the portrait, Peale produced a number of replicas, of which this is an example. Peale shows the general under a soaring American flag with the Hessian banners captured at Trenton clustered around his feet. In the background, American soldiers lead British prisoners off the field. In the original portrait and its immediate followers, Washington wears a blue ribbon across his breast, the insignia of the commander-in-chief since 1775. On June 18, 1780, however, Washington changed the military dress code, eliminating the blue sash and replacing it with three silver stars on the epaulettes. Peale clearly had started the present portrait before this date, as a long blue sash, painted out by the artist at a later date, today shows through. This pentimento, which records a specific moment in the history of American military dress, may be unique among the replicas of the portrait.


Oil on canvas


95 × 61 in. (241.3 × 154.9 cm)

Credit Line

Given by the Associates in Fine Arts and Mrs. Henry B. Loomis in memory of Henry Bradford Loomis, B.A. 1875

Accession Number



18th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



William Carmichael (ca. 1739–1795), Madrid, 1779; probably Pedro Alcántara de Toledo y Salm-Salm (1768–1841), Madrid; by inheritance to Manuel de Toledo Lesparre (1805–1886), Pastrana, Spain; by inheritance to Dionisia Maria Vives y Zires (1823–1892), Pastrana, Spain; bequeathed to the Colegio Nuestra Señora del Buen Consejo, Lecaroz, Spain. P.W. French & Co., New York, 1919; sold to Gustavus T. Kirby (1874–1956), New York; sold to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1942
  • Arthur S. Lefkowitz, Eyewitness Images from the American Revolution (Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company, 2017), 148, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

military history, portraits


Signed lower left: "C: WPeale pinxit 1781"

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