Rare Peale Portrait of Washington Up for Sale

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On January 21, Christie's will auction a full length portrait of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale. It is one of the last Peale portraits of the general in private hands. The painting depicts Washington after the battle of Princeton, leaning casually on a cannon. It was sent as a gift to France but the ship was forced to dock in Spain, possibly to escape British pursuers. There, diplomat William Carmichael, who had replaced John Jay as our man in Madrid, sold it in 1782, and sent the proceeds to Peale, a close friend. It eventually travelled to New York art dealers in the early 1900s, when it was bought by Natalie Blair, daughter of a railroad tycoon, who hung it in her home in Tuxedo Park until her death in 1952. Most recently the portrait was on loan to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Christie says Mrs. Blair's heirs can look forward to collecting between $10 and $15 million for this magnificent work of art.

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