George Washington and His Portrait (George Washington, George Washington)


George Deem (1932–2008)




Oil on canvas


23 5/8 x 19 5/8 in. (60 x 49.8 cm)


Although the American artist George Deem was living in Italy when he executed this painting, his source for it could not be more American:  Gilbert Stuart’s 1796 portrait of the first president, which, due to its having been owned by the Boston Athenæum for over 150 years, is known as The Athenæum Portrait. (The painting is now jointly owned by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.) Here, Deem ponders art’s relationship to reality by painting Washington-the-man posing in front of Washington-the-portrait. “I followed Stuart’s painting application and color for the ‘portrait’ in my painting,” Deem explained, “But when painting the foreground image, I dulled Stuart’s color, using a gray glaze to produce the appearance of a photographic studio portrait.”  [David B. Dearinger, 2013]

Credit Line

Gift of the Estate of George Deem, 2011

Object Number