Following his death in 1799, George Washington seemed “above the clouds,” to paraphrase the general’s most popular biographer, Mason Locke Weems.

The glorification of Washington continued for more than a century, culminating in the romanticized and popular history paintings of the Philadelphia artist Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930). These canvases present a remarkably appealing and virtuous figure but provide limited reliable information about the “Father” of our country.

This exhibition presents 13 original paintings by Ferris along with 17 historical records that reveal facts about Washington’s life and about the man behind the myth. The exhibition also features items that have rarely left the grounds of his Virginia home, Mount Vernon, such as his presidential chair and inaugural sword.