James Heath Engraving of “General Washington”
1800-Dated, Engraving by James Heath, “General Washington,” After a Painting by Gilbert Stuart.
This engraving of George Washington, was made after the historic “Lansdowne” portrait, one of three famous portrait types by America’s most important Revolutionary War era painter, Gilbert Stuart. The large, full-length original version was sent to the Marquis of Lansdowne by the wealthy Philadelphian, William Bingham. (The other two types were called the “Vaughan” and the “Athenaeum.”) The “Lansdowne” likeness was first engraved in London by James Heath and published on January 1, 1800. It was then exported to and widely advertised in America.
The original artist, Gilbert Stuart had planned to publish a print himself. He was furious with Heath’s copy and placed notices in newspapers in several cities. The engraving shows Washington in civilian clothes, but holding his sword, and gesturing towards a table, under which are several books, one of them his “General Orders.” The leg of the table is in the form of a fasces (bundled sticks, in this case referring to strength in unity), with an eagle at the top holding arrows in its talon.