Washington as Statesman at the Constitutional Convention (Primary Title)

Junius Brutus Stearns, American, 1810 - 1885 (Artist)

oil on canvas
United States
Unframed: 37 1/2 × 54 in. (95.25 × 137.16 cm)
Framed: 46 × 63 3/16 × 3 1/2 in. (116.84 × 160.5 × 8.89 cm)
Not on view
The years surrounding the fiftieth anniversary in 1849 of Washington’s death saw renewed 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 now in VMFA’s collection—highlight aspects of Washington’s life. This final work painted by Stearns represents Washington’s role as president of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. The normally reserved Washington urges passage of a new federal constitution, a draft of which he holds in his hands. In 1856, as in 1787, Americans vociferously debated the merits of a strong centralized government versus the authority of each state. In the 1850s many Americans understood Washington as a truly national figure whose legacy could unite the nation amid increasing conflict between northern and southern states.
signed at lower right: "STEARNS"
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch
2019: Loan to Art in Embassies Program, Ambassador's residence, Vienna, Austria, November 11, 2019 - July 1, 2022.

A Portrait of George Washington: the Man, the Soldier and the President, Taubman Museum of Art, February 6 – July 31, 2016

"Picturing History: American Painting 1770-1930", IBM Gallery, NY, September 28 - November 27, 1993; The Corcoran Gallery, Washington DC, January 29 - April 2, 1994; Dallas Museum of Art, May 1 - July 10, 1994; Center for Fine Arts, Miami, FL, August 8 - November 13, 1994.

US House of Representatives, Cannon Building, Rotunda Area, and U.S. Supreme Court BUilding, Washington, D.C. Special showing in honor of the 200th Anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, September 9 - October 31, 1987.

Pennsylvania Academy, April 22 - December 31, 1976

Mary Washington College, February 1956

Roanoke Fine Arts Center, January 23 - February 23, 1953

Colon, David, Aude Chamouard, Laurent Avezou, Cécile Becchia, Paul Chopelin, , Olivier Delmas, Catherine Hoffmann Saint-Pierre, Jean-Baptiste Picard, Zohra Picard-Mawji, Solange Rameix, Thomas Rigaud, Clarisse Sophie Roche, and Sophie Tejedor. Histoire: 2de, Nouveau Programme. Paris: Belin, 2019. (fig 6.2, p. 197)

Kamps, Alice. The Charters of Freedom. Washington, D.C., National Archives Foundation, 2016. Color ill. p. 44.

Buckley, F.H. The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America. New York; London: Encounter Books, 2015. Jacket cover, color ill.

McManus, Edgar J. and Tara Helfman. "Liberty and Union A Constitutional History of the United States". New York: Routledge, 2014.

O’Leary, Elizabeth L., Sylvia Yount, Susan Jensen Rawles, and David Park Curry. American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Charlottesville: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with the University of Virginia Press, 2010. (No. 53, p. 141-147).

Elizabeth Beaumont, “Founding Principles and Founding Politics: Jack Rakove’s Contributions to Constitutional Theory,” Extensions. A Journal of the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, Winter 2010, color ill. p. 6.

Leo Dalhuisen et al, Sprekend Verleden, Deel C (Baam, Netherlands: NijghVersluys, Sept. 2008) p. 11, color ill. (Dutch)

Outline of U.S. History (Washington DC: U.S. State Dept., 2005) b&w ill. pp. 66-67; and website: http://usinfo.state.gov/journals.htm. 2005-2007.

Perry & Perry, Contemporary Society, 9th ed. (Needham, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1999) ill. p. unknown; 11th ed.: b&w ill. p. 390; 12th ed.: b&w ill. p. 422.

Robert L. Maddex, The U.S. Constitution A to Z (Washington DC: C.Q. Press, various years) 1st ed (2002): pp. iv, 102, b&w ill. p. 102; 2nd ed (2008): pp. iv, 120, b&w ill. p. 120.

Jesse Ventura with Heron Marquez, Jesse Ventura Tells It Like It Is (Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 2002) pp. 18-19, color ill.

Blair Kauffman and Bonnie Collier, Law in America (Southport, CT: Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, 2001) color ill. pp. 140-141.

America and its People 4th edition (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Addison Wesley Longman, 2001) color ill. p. 182.

A Historical Reader Founding a Nation (Evanston, IL: Nextext, an imprint of McDougal Littell, 2000) color ill. on cover (det.).

Exhibition panel graphic on the life of George Washington, on the USS George Washington, GW Room, beginning 2000.

Exhibition panel graphic for “The Washington Monument: An American Expression,” at the Washington Monument, beginning 2000.

Exhibition panel graphic for “George Washington,” Tennessee State Museum, Nov. 1, 1999 – Feb. 1, 2000

“Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution,” CD-ROM (Westport, CT: Weston Woods Studio/Scholastic Book Publishing, 1999)

Anne Barriault, Selections Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1997) p. 83, ill. (color).

Gerald A. Danzer et al, The Americans Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness (Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell, 1998) color detail pp. 122-123, credit p. 1139.

Miriam Greenblatt & Peter Silver Lemmo, Human Heritage A World History (New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1995) color ill. p. 512.

Ryan J. Barilleaux, American Government in Action Principle, Process, Politics (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996) b&w ill. p. 34.

Edwards and Lineberry, Government in America Brief, 2nd ed. (Glenview, IL: HarperCollins College Publishers, 1996) n.p. ill.

on display in an educational program about James Madison and the Constitutional Convention, at Montpelier, VA.

R. Conrad Stein, Cornerstones of Freedom The Powers of Congress (Chicago: Children’s Press, 1995) ill. p. 6.

Michael Nelson, editor, The Presidency (London: Salamander Books Ltd., 1996) ill. p. 17, credit p. 206.

invitation to join The Founders Circle (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, 1996) cover ill.

L.G. Dalhuisen et al, Samenleving op de rails (Rijswijk, The Netherlands: Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 1995) ill. p. 4.

William Lasser, American Politics (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath & Co., 1996) ill. p. 23, credit p. A-31.

Stephen Mantell, Jefferson the Statesman video (Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 1991).

"Liberty! The American Revolution," 6-hour documentary for national PBS broadcast (New York: Middle March Films, on behalf of KTCA/Twin Cities Public Television, 1997) 6/25:30.

Kenneth E. Hamburger et al, Why America is Free A History of the Founding of the American Republic 1750-1800 (Mt. Vernon, VA: Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association in association with The Society of Cincinnati, Washington DC, 1998) p. 163, color ill.

1995 Guinness Multimedia Disc of Records (Danbury, CT: Guinness Publishing, 1995) cd rom.

Melvin I. Urofsky, ed., Basics Readings in U.S. Democracy (Washington, DC: U.S.I.A., 1994) ill. p. 26.

Kenneth Prewitt et al, An Introduction to American Government, 6th ed. (New York: HarperCollins, 1991) p. ll, ill. (detail), chapter 1 coverpage.

John Grafton, America A History of the First 500 Years (Avinel, NJ: Crescent Books, 1992) p. 21, ill. F.

audio-cassette cover for David Barton, Keys to Good Government (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilder Press, 1992).

The Presidents: It all Started with George (Washington, DC: The National Geographic Society CD-ROM Program, 1993).

Morris Cohen, Law The Art of Justice (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992) pp. 80-81, ill. no. 34.

Michael Kammen, A Machine that Would Go of Itself The Constitution On American Culture (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994) ill. p. 208.

Martin et al, America and its People (Chicago: HarperCollins, 1994) p. 203.

Metropolitan Richmond Magazine (published by the Metro Richmond Convention and Visitors' Bureau) Fall 1993, ill.

Leslie Wheeler and Judith Peacock, Twenty Events that Changed American History (Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn Publishers, 1994) p. 10.

Sterling Stuckey and Linda Kerrigan Salvucci, Call to Freedom (Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2000) color det. p. 180; other versions: 1865 to Present, 2001, color det. p. 31; Beginnings to 1877, 2001, color det. p. 222; Beginnings to 1914, 2000, color det. p. 222.

Barbara Silberdick Feinberg, The Dictionary of the U.S. Constitution (New York: Franklin Watts Children’s Press, 1999) b&w ill. p. 29.

American Journeys (Washington DC: National Geographic Society in association with Macmillan/McGraw Hill Publishing Company, 1998) page unknown.

John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, American Nation A History of the United States to 1877, Vol. 1, 10th ed. (New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 2000) color ill. pp. 136-137, credit p. C-1.

Herman J. Viola et al, Social Studies New Jersey State Edition, Grade 4 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005) p. 62, b&w ill.

Didactic mural at Mount Vernon's Education Center, Nov. 2006-Spring 2007.

Didactic panel, "The Founding Generation," McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum, Chicago, 2006

The American Mind dvd (Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company, 2006) disc 2, lecture 7 by Allen Guelzo

Stacey Bredhoff, The Charters of Freedom. A New World is at Hand (Washington DC: Foundation for the National Archives, in asso. with D Giles Ltd, London) p. 46, color ill.
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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.