Washington as a Farmer at Mount Vernon (Primary Title)
The years surrounding 1849—the fiftieth anniversary of Washington’s death—saw new interest in the first American president. A flurry of public and private tributes included an ambitious series of large oil paintings by Junius Stearns, most of them popularized through lithographic prints. The five canvases—four of which are not in VMFA’s collection—highlight aspects of Washington’s life.
Washington as a Farmer pictures the retired president inspecting the wheat harvest at his Virginia plantation. Stearns’s idealized vision of a harmonious system of cooperative farming belies the growing national furor over the question of slavery. The Compromise of 1850, a tenuous congressional agreement between North and South, was already unraveling.
Grant Wood and the American Farm, Reynolda House Museum, Winston-Salem, NC, September 8 – December 31, 2016
Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art, UVA Art Museum, January 18 - April 20, 2008; Gibbes Museum of Art, May 9 - August 3, 2008.
Tales from the Easel: Narrative Paintings from Southern Museums, The Columbus Museum of Art, Georgia, February 8 - April 11, 2004; Tampa Museum of Art, Florida, April 25 - July 11, 2004; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, September 14 - Decemver 12, 2004; El Paso Museum of Art, Texas, January 16 - April 10, 2005.
Inventing Old Virginia: The Rise of a Pastoral Ideal, Virginia Historical Society, February 8 - June 8, 2003.
George Washington, The Man Behind the Myths, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Va., February 22 - October 1999; Tennessee State Historical Society, Nashville, Oct. 21, 1999 - Feb. 8, 2000; Washington Historical Society, Tacoma, Feb. 13 - June 2, 2000.
History Painting in America, 1775 - 1925, Fraunces Tavern Museum, New York, 1993-1994; IBM Gallery of Art, September 28 - November 27, 1993; Dallas Museum of Art, May 1 - July 16, 1994; Miami, Florida (?museum), August 6 - November 13, 1994.
Spotlight Loan, Piedmont Arts Association, Martinsville, September 8 - November 24, 1986
Virginia Bicentennial Commission, April 1977 - ?
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, April 22 - Dec. 31, 1976.
Mary Washington College, February, 1956.
Roanoke Fine Arts Center, January 23 - February 23, 1953.
"Foruth Annual Exhibition of American & Foreign Paintings, Summer Season," Derby Galleries, New York, 1863.
Fine Arts Institute, New York, 1863.
The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadeplhia, 1854.
National Academy of Design, New York, 1854.
Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.