George Washington on Glass

George Washington, Reverse painting on glass in Philadelphia

George Washington, Reverse painting on glass in Philadelphia

Days ago I had seen a similar portrait of George Washington in the New Britain Museum of American Art. This one was in Pennsylvania Grand Lodge of Masons in Philadelphia. The one in Connecticut was attributed to Foeiqua, the one in Philadelphia states “unknown Chinese artist.”


These reverse paintings on glass are after Gilbert Stuart’s famous portrait of our first president. The label in Philadelphia really brought the situation to life. Stuart made his bread and butter from paintings of Washington and kept the portrait that’s on the dollar bill unfinished specifically so he could make copies, even after repeated requests from Martha Washington.

George Washington by Foeiqua at the New Britain Museum of American Art
George Washington by Foeiqua at the New Britain Museum of American Art

Pirated DVDs may plague the film industry today, but according to the label at the Masonic Lodge, Stuart had to go to battle to keep the Chinese from reproducing his portraits of Washington. Stuart asked collectors of his portraits to sign an agreement stating that only he had the right to reproduce the image. He also complained to the Circuit Court of the Eastern District of the United States in an attempt to halt forgeries for sale.

A good reference book on the topic is Decorative Arts of the China Trade by Carl L. Crossman

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Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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